Legends from our own lunchtimes

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Drinking more water.

Did that really happen?  Was yesterday's photograph really taken yesterday or was it a month ago?  It seems like a lifetime, or even as though I haven't taken it yet, I'm not really sure.

If I may, for the second day in a row draw from the wisdom within the Guide:
"You'd better be prepared for the jump into hyperspace. It's unpleasently like being drunk."
"What's so unpleasant about being drunk?
"Ask a glass of water."

Here we are, feeling significantly as though we've just been drunk unpleasantly, on the other side of the world a mere fifteen hours from when we left, after twenty five hours of travel.

As we swapped the silver tube for the London Tube, joining the morning commuters I sent an SMS message to Shelley so they would know our whereabouts:

"Lwaving earl cy"  it said.

I think I need to drink more water, a lot more water, before we attempt the Putney High Street.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Restaurant at the end of the universe.

We are currently sitting in the Restaurant At The End Of The Universe, which is otherwise known as the Qantas Club in Singapore, having supped and showered and congratulated ourselves as we always do at the foresight we displayed almost twenty years ago, when we paid for a life membership, and waiting now to return in an hour or two to the silver tube that will be our home for the next twelve or fourteen hours.

Distance travel today, even though we travel so far  back in the plane that we are in a different time zone from the cockpit, is more akin to time travel than journeying.  One walks into the tube, watches a movie or four, eats, drinks and fidgets uncomfortably, to exit via the same door in a few hours or many into a completely different climate filled with beings who would be described as aliens by our own immigration services.

The technology that makes travel so seamless also provides a challenge though.   Communication is instant, distance is of no consequence, hand luggage is now burdened with cables and chargers and electronic devices to ensure that we are in constant communication with the very people from whom we are attempting to place great distance.

On a slightly related note, our iPhone is our "Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy", or so spookily close the to Guide as Adams invented it all those years ago, that we must start to look for other clues within it as to what form our life may take in the coming years!


Monday, June 28, 2010

Even though all the frangipani leaves bar one have dropped during the week of cooler temperatures, it held out a cheery farewell posy for us as we loaded the trusty hire car and headed vaguely closer the airport, and just a few hours late to the Big Smoke and Uncle Colin's Eightieth birthday celebration.

We took our place as we always did, with the kids in a circle out the back, well away from where the grown ups were telling their grown up stories.   It never really occurred to us, nor did it to the grown-ups I suspect, that the youngest of the kids was now in her mid fifties, and most of us if not retired, were well past the enthusiasm for full time employment that we perhaps had once displayed.

When the circle of life reaches the point where the kids are in their circle swapping notes about their grandchildren, it's time to take every opportunity to smell the frangipani!


Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Storm before the Calm

 It all looks so peaceful from this angle; a few bags, a set of scales, a book.   Behind the camera however there is another view.  One of complete and utter chaos where all the things that would be quite handy, like underwear, jumpers and shoes have not quite yet worked out how they will stow away.

It's not as if we haven't done this before of course, but this time seems worse than usual.

We can't tell if it's our state of mind or state of being.   It seems that much of the stuff we are taking will stay for one reason or another on the boat, which isn't leaving enough room for the stuff that we intend bringing back.

Now here's a novel idea:  why don't we just leave it here in the first place?

Out of reach of the house-sitter's dog of course.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


One thing I've never understood about going away is how all the little jobs that never seem to get done become terribly important.

We probably don't need to stay at home for more than a week a year to organise everything we need to do to keep things running smoothly if the past week is anything to go by.

Yesterday I managed to fit two cars into the garage for the first time in six months.  That is probably more of an admission of defeat than a cry of victory though, as I'd co-opted the space taken up by the second to use for for my own particular purposes.  Perhaps if I'd concentrated more on trying to sell the blue one, I wouldn't have had to do quite so much tidying up.

The other thing that seems to happen with the regularity of clockwork, is the visit from friends who have been absent for years, right in the middle of the packing cleaning frenzy.    Today was no different, and if it hadn't been for our rather conservative two day clean up schedule, we might even have started to panic a bit as the second hour of rumination ticked past.

A chat is always more important than a cleanup anyway.

If an old friend had turned up wanting to buy a blue car, we could have had a doubly wonderful time and we would have had less tidying to do to boot.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Before Dawn

I am starting to wonder if we'll ever return to a normal sleep pattern, but the morning gave us the most spectacular dawn.   Some would describe it admittedly, as grey and perhaps without promise, but the water glistened like quicksilver for just a few spectacular moments in a vivid reminder that there are many alternatives to stereotypical experiences.

Not many more sleeps, the paintings have a tracking number, we've started to think about what to take, and the pest bloke came to keep the silverfish at bay in our absence, and rubbed us for luck.  

I remember him telling us last year that we are "glass half full" kinds of people,  and me telling him that it was a nonsense to talk in "half empty" and "half full" terms.

If you just find a glass that's the right size for the situation it can be full all the time.

I wonder, as the half way point in the year approaches, if I were to look back at my thought processes earlier in the year, if they reflected that philosophy? 


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Herding Cats

Trying to get Mr ThreeAlmostFour, Miss "well I'm seven weeks old today and I can do what I want" and the Matriarch in one frame at the one time looking as though they were enjoying her 84th birthday breakfast, which they certainly were to a person, was not a task to be undertaken lightly.

Perhaps it was the impact of the triple ice-cream scoop for him, or the double-breast for the youngest, or maybe it was just the apple crepe unsettling the photographer that  caused the trouble, but in the end, despite almost getting frustrated with it all,  it all came out fine.

Fine is also how we seem to be cutting all the paperwork before we depart, although now it's almost done with a day to spare thanks to a marathon office crawl this afternoon.   

Our path home was paved with a hundred signatures; first a stop at the solicitors to endorse the personal paperwork witnessed in duplicate and sealed in wax (OK I made up the bit about being sealed in wax, but it felt like it), then to the bank to finalise funds for today's purchase, and most complicated of all, the post office to redirect our mail.   

Nine pieces of paper all signed in duplicate, each with two official looking rubber stamps on it was all it took.  Dealing with Australia Post makes family portrait time seem positively fun.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Some day my boy, all this will be yours

We decided some time ago that our circumstances have collected sufficient complexity over the last thirty-six years that it really would be a good idea to get some proper advice about redrafting our wills.  

This clearly needed the realignment of a couple of planets, as when we checked the initial draft documents we discovered to our surprise that they'd been commenced almost ten years ago and here were we thinking it was just last week.

They'd been held up by the absence of an original and apparently non replaceable document which our banks in their wisdom had decided to lose.  Interestingly we have a receipt for one of them, which seems to fly in the face of the Banks steadfast denial, but I digress.

Our people had suggested with ever diminishing hope verging on desperation that that the solicitor who had prepared our original deed may possibly have kept an original duplicate stamped copy for safe keeping, as a bit of insurance against our selves.  

We of course thought that unlikely.  Why after all would there be a spare copy of a document of which we remembered nothing? 

None the less we spoke to a nice young lady at the Law Society with a much heavier accent than the one in the call centre who'd been helping with our travel sim card earlier in the day,  and she was able to give us details of the firm who may be able to assist.

One phone call later and the document that shouldn't exist was ready for collection, along with the original (1976) versions of our wills, all neatly bound in green cord.  

What sort of evil nasty solicitor would have so little trust in his client that he'd hide a document for thirty years just in case his client lost all the "other originals"?

Our people were impressed.

We were impressed.

 (Are you listening ALWM?)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Another Step

It had to happen I suppose, they had to go eventually, and today they did.

As the doors on the van clicked shut, Mr Threealmostfour gave new instructions to the driver:

"Don't take them to France, take them to MY house."

I know how he feels, we are going to miss having them around, if not the tripping over them.   I suppose I'll have to start on some more now to relieve the bare walls.  Come to think of it, that's how it all began, perhaps this time will take less than thirty years to start painting again.

Monday, June 21, 2010


The girls (who are used to outnumbering the boys and even when they don't, outvoting them) and not having supreme confidence in Papa's ability to make decisions that perhaps they themselves would not,  decided that to play safe they wouldn't pack any of his swimwear.  That would remove temptation and eliminate the "swimming in winter" option.

But they just don't understand that pirates aren't afraid of a bit cold water.

Or swimming naked.

They might be a teensy bit afraid of soldier crabs and those little mud pellets sticking to their feet though.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Boy Genes

Mr ThreeNearlyFour is with us for a few days, so life becomes faster and noisier in the blink of an eye, and there are a few blinks in the normal course of our day.  We have never underestimated the differences between boys and girls, well not for a long long time, but our entire experience of child rearing did not include more than a glimpse into the ways of little men.

Being woken to "Can we go into the workshop now?" is not something to which I am accustomed.

A few minutes later, while I was detained in the course of my morning ablutions he was caught by his grandmother and mother sitting in front of my computer where quite randomly and coincidentally the screen saver had captured an album of tools and projects I'd photographed over the years.  Again we are not accustomed to seeing small children transfixed as a bandsaw morphs into a patternmaker's vice over layed by a carpenter's square, let alone hearing a running commentary on what was appearing.

It was, however, late in the course of our breakfast that really set the tone for the day.


"You're my friend."


Saturday, June 19, 2010


I am nothing if not a creature of habit, although the last few months have left us with surprisingly few Saturdays with which to feed my habit.  It's astonishing how rare in recent months have been the times we've actually been home on a Saturday or not had some commitment that involved waking in the wee small hours and driving off.

All of that stops next week of course, and as today may well be the last opportunity to get some last minute practise for the arduous months that lie ahead, I trotted off to van Wegen's as is my usual wont.

Cafe, croissant aux amande and the washing up.

It doesn't get any better.

Except maybe if there was no washing up.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd...

The Nambour show was on today, and I couldn't help but be disappointed in the sloth and almost arrogance of the show people.  My fondest memories of sideshows are of tenacious salesmen who would crawl over cut glass to get everyone passing to have just one more throw at the cans. 

Noisy they were, and active, thieves to a man, or so "they" would have one believe, dressed in clothing they'd no doubt stolen from a charity bin to reflect their true life poverty.  They'd abuse one if they took a photo, feigning terror lest the tax man should see it, never explaining why the tax man would be interested in my family albums or what sort of audit would be required for him to get a peep.

Wouldn't the Mercedes Benz' they used to tow their caravans have been a bigger clue for the Commissioner, I used to wonder.

Now, well they just sort of hang around really with tummies full, feigning disinterest without even a hint of desperation, waiting for passers buy to throw a few spare fifties in their direction.

I wandered the length of them without once being accosted, not once did I feel compelled to try for my pick of the top shelf.

As a result, I went home unladen. 

No box of chocolates, no giant kewpie doll on a stick.

Nothing but memories of the good old days, when shows were shows!


Thursday, June 17, 2010


After years of him lurking half finished in the back of the shed, supervising everything that's gone on within when he wasn't blind folded by the canoe, we delivered Ralph to Ralph today.

I developed newfound respect for his mother on the way as well, if she had as much trouble delivering him as we did.   Apart from him not actually fitting in the car, necessitating a whole packaging process, we had our first ever packaging failure and thank the nice bus driver flashing his lights to draw our attention to the surprising fact that he was floating somewhere above the roof racks while still attached and undamaged.

Then there was the nasty caravan explosion: inverted car, van in pieces no larger than the average dog's breakfast, and no one hurt.  Even with an hour's delay on the highway, our day was going to be better than theirs.

As for Ralph, it's a wonderfully ego soothing affair, when someone not only likes an image of themselves that one has created, but likes it enough to hang it in their own home, and then to discover his wife appears to like it as well just adds icing to the cake.

I'm somewhere between excited, pleasantly surprised and not surprised at all.

But I am just as chuffed as he is none the less.

Although I'm going to miss his omnipresence I think.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Endless Summer

I don't think we are going to see our frangipani completely bare this year,  we'll be back and it will once again in full foliage.  We may well be back before autumn seriously hits in the north as well, so no bare trees or golden leaves falling photographs from me.

It's not as though I NEED another blog, but while putting the bones around Canal Chat and thinking too much, I observed that those of us who are caught in this human form of migratory loop between northern and southern hemispheres live in an endless summer,  a state of being first described in a surfing movie of the same name from the mid sixties.  I wonder if those early influences implanted a subconscious restlessness that makes us do this stuff?

As we get nearer to the shortest day of the year here, it occurred to me that in our "loop" the days are in a constant state of getting shorter.

We leave at just about the time they start to lengthen again, but arrive in the Northern Hemisphere with the opposite consequence.

Can that be good for our health?

I'll have to stop thinking about it or something will drop off.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Oh Joy!

The boat name arrived in the mail today, ready for it's big trip, and now we feel as though it really is happening.   
Having a fake home port name on the transom is very uncool, and Mooloolaba, last time I looked was not a port in the north of France.
It is so uncool that it contravenes international maritime law, and we probably shouldn't do it.
But I really love the smile that French people get when they try to read it.  It's very similar to the one they get when I try to pronounce any French word with an "r" in it, so until we get locked up for our flagrant disregard for authority (unless we chicken out in the meantime) we'll proudly fly the tricoleur from her stern right above the sign that reads:


Monday, June 14, 2010

It's a public holiday today, but it feels like Sunday,  Matt will have his Lily back this morning and he sounds as though he's missing his girls as much as we will be by this afternoon.

Their stairs are clear and glossy now, unlike my paintings.  Got a few first coats on, but the temperature and humidity are not helping at all.

After two days of sub 20° temperatures and overcast skies I'm starting to feel as though we could be in London.   I don't think I'm suited to a proper winter.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


The little Chinese man with the pigtail holding on to the pincushion as though his very life depended on it, probably likes rainy winter days.    He gets to sit out in the lounge room enjoying the view.  It must be quite a change from sitting in his drawer in the office.

I can't say that I blame him really, after just a few days and a few more nights stuck next to his drawer I've got pins and needles in my brain.

But the mail list is ready to go now so our network of canal friends should be interconnected. 


Like the weather, still too damp to get the clear coat on the paintings.  Maybe I shouldn't have left it till the last three weeks, but at least I've still got Lily here to cuddle.


Saturday, June 12, 2010


While I take up every square millimetre of elevated horizontal surface, our Lily seems to have spread across the house.

Mark, our neighbour chef gave a more or less impromptu Master Chef Master Class this morning, so it was risotto for lunch, and an entirey different scraggy horde coming for dinner mean that my mess will be bundled into a pile to either be forgotten or lost.

Problem solved.

Till we are in France and find we've forgotten a map.

Perhaps we'll just leave a baby powder trail so that we can retrace our steps.  

Meanwhile it seems that Dave, the nice American in the support team somewhere in Atlanta has seen my point and is leaning on the accounts people to refund my costs for the dud email service.  If Dave is no smaller than some of his countrymen whom we count as friends, then I'd be very afraid if I was in accounts.

On the other hand our new provider seems to be very kind and efficient.  We may be able to have a map emailed to us after all.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The mountain comes to us!

While we feign busy-ness, our Lily is growing at an enormous rate.  She obviously misses us greatly so she decided it was time for a long weekend visit with her mum.  

I hope Matt gets the painting done, because it's a huge price to pay, being away from his girls for a whole weekend while he paints, and paints, and paints.

Me? Well no, the paint I bought was a dud batch, so I've had it replaced.

The email hosting service I bought was a dud too, so I'm trying to replace that.

We have to get that right so we can get our pictorial updates!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Every day is extraordinary of course, and I'm sure that today, with a fire lit first thing in the morning because, well it was a bit cool for us, things would be no different.

Clear blue winter sky, fringing palms and a fire indoors.  Heaven.

It was too cold to paint because the clear I'm using says 15° or more, and too windy anyway or my paintings will all end up with a coat of central Australia on them.

So we did what any sensible person would do and went to the movies with friends.  It was cold enough the jacket I've worn in respectable places for the last for years or so.  It was so cool that, dressed as I was and going out as we were I became slightly disoriented.   I crawled across two seats in the cinema, sat down and subconsciously reached for my seat belt, fortunately no one understood my movement or if they did they weren't telling.   This was one monster aircraft.

Robin Hood.  In France.  With improbable landing craft on the shores of Dover.

Dinner afterwards in Turkey.

Home to battle with our ISP in America.

Who needs travel when one can stay at home and have conversations in five accents in one day.  Come to think of it, Russell Crowe managed to do more than that in just one movie, and he was only playing one role.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Time Travel

My words of yesterday fell on my own deaf ears.  I am writing this post next Saturday which is a fair indication of how quickly time is travelling for us.

Where once we had weeks to get our act together, now we have days, and our act is a very big one apparently.

There is more on the table than yesterday, and it's supposed to be clear, the paintings aren't lacquered yet but at least I've bought the paint, and I seem to have wasted an entire day not fixing our domain hosting issues.

Despite all that, we have progressed a little.

We have travel insurance.

And a map.

What more do we need?

We have of course bade our farewells to the soldier crabs, which is just as well, because the baby stingrays have arrived in numbers.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Well it finally happened.   I actually lost control of this journal, not only pushing it aside for a few days, but buried as we are, up to our armpits in paper and thoughts of what we might need to do during the next four months, it has become difficult to think what happened more than an hour ago!

That is of course because we are in a vicious circle of changing over automatic payments from our old card to our new, and even though we are being very diligent, we don't seem to get to the next account before the last one has "bounced".

Never the less in a split second of weakness we've booked a train ride, a hire car AND a hotel for the first two nights we are in France.   We've even bought some charts of the waters through which we hope to travel.   More signs of ageing I suspect, although tempered somewhat by the last minute nature of the effort.

All of this is happening under the watchful eye of Mr Three, who perched as he is temporarily where we can keep an eye on him for the week or so he has left with us, he has heard every gasp as we receive one outrageous price after another to send him to France with his eight mates.   

It would be much more cost effective to send the subjects in person than the paintings!

The dining table is starting to look as it did fifteen years ago, but I had an excuse then.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Old People

We had an old people's day today, so I thought another sunset would make a pleasant accompaniment to the text.

To be completely fair, one of us did go off to gym while the other sat in the queue with the other geriatrics at the pathology clinic, waiting to have the sorts of blood tests that require fasting, then the other went to have her eyes tested and organise a new set of reading specs, arriving home just in time to pass the baton to yours truly who was off to watch "Mr and Mrs Smith" on the ceiling of the dentist's suite.

It didn't ease the pain at all to know that by the time we'd had lunch we'd managed to rack up a four figure debt on the new credit card that purports to be made of some sort of exotic metal but which for all the world looks and feels like plastic.

But then we probably earned enough frequent flyer points to send us to Beerwah, and all being well will have saved any nasty surprises while in foreign climes at the same time.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

The first fire of winter.

The temperature made it below 18° in the house tonight, so it was fair game to light the fire.   It's probably going to be this way for the next three weeks no matter what the temperature.   Eight years ago, I removed much of the vegetation from what was at the time our garden, and cut it into fire sized bits, and then I removed all the roof battens and cut them into fire sized bits.

Then I stored them in the boat shed waiting for a cold and rainy day.  

We still look for excuses to ignite it and I'm not sure that we'll be moving the rest of the pile when we leave, so there's no need to be sparing this year!

It's funny how we acclimatise though.  Next month we will be in summer, and the temperatures will be similar, and we won't be feeling cold at all.

Saturday, June 05, 2010


There are sales on in the luggage department of Myers and most other places at the moment, and last year I suffered a blowout in the left wheel on my bag.  It cost $75.00 and it's been around the world a couple of times, or maybe more come to think of it, and I'm not sure that we've had our money's worth just yet.

So today I started to repair the wheel axle, and the other wheel mount, and the clip on the handle, and the internal braces, and I made a new internal stiffener.   Oh, and new mounting brackets for the wheels.

By the time I've finished it will weigh more than our luggage allowance, but at least I'll get a few more years out of it.

I think

Friday, June 04, 2010

Say Aaaargh

An extra ordinary sunset this evening just about capped off the day perfectly, but I had to settle for quick snap from the office chair as I couldn't get away from the Mother on the phone for the few seconds that the ripples lasted.

Today was the "check up" day at the dentist, not remarkable one would have thought, but check ups seem to take forever these days.  Gums get measured, teeth get coated, I get chastised (gently of course) and we walk out missing the cost of a return trip to Tasmania from our credit card account, but infinitely more confident in the treatment than that which we have received for the greater part of our lives.

We leave after forty minutes of care, without bleeding gums and echos of scraping in our ears, or skid marks on our tongues from where the scrubbing brush covered in Ajax had slipped.  We like our new dentist a lot.

I suspect I'd like here even more if I didn't have to go back on Monday to have a couple of old repairs repaired.

Oh well, the new credit cards arrived today, so at least we'll get double frequent flyers points for the next lot.


Thursday, June 03, 2010


Bill Lawrie is fond of exclaiming "it's all happening" whenever there's a bit of an incident during a cricket match that he's commenting on, and I know how he feels.

We've put looking for houses on temporary hold, the countdown timer is getting too loud in our ears for that sort of nonsense.  

It's time to take a big deep breath, look out the window at the little pink clouds on the water, and start making a list.

A very long list.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010


Perhaps I should have set out to do a daily sunset from the living room blog.  

It seems that the clouds haven't moved since last night, but the colours have got a little less subtle.  Which is exactly where I got to with the last of the paintings before deciding that it isn't going anywhere for the rest of this year.   

As always under pressure, nothing I tried seemed to bring it together, and I promised myself yesterday would be the last, as I did again today, but today I listened to myself.  Now it sits unsigned, like Ralph did, waiting for some mad moment in the future when the flash of a sunset or just new inspiration will give it the life that lies just under the surface.

So tomorrow all the paints get put away and perhaps we'll think about the move, or France, or maybe we'll just go to the movies.


Tuesday, June 01, 2010

On Golden Pond

As the sun recedes over our own golden pond, it is of course the end first day of the month in which we make the transition to our other life, a day when, with the spectre of yesterday's photo looming large, I daren't say "White Rabbit" after offering my pinch and punch for the first day of the month.

The excitement and stress will grow over coming weeks, I still have a painting to finish and we haven't even made a list yet.  For that matter our new credit cards haven't arrived and we need to find some Euro too.

I'll have to dust off the beret and the thermal underwear, but come to think of it there just maybe a nice recipe for rabbit pie  ready to come with us on a hard drive near here. 

Twenty seven days to sort ourselves out.

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