Thursday, February 22, 2018

Adelaide and Perth

On Sunday afternoon I flew to Adelaide, for a day's work on Monday, then a flight to Perth, for a day's work on Tuesday, and back home Tuesday night. Different time zones, but I think I just stayed on Canberra time, which worked out fine. Except for going to bed at 8 on Monday night and waking up at 5 am on Tuesday morning, but honestly, when you're in a hotel room on your own, it's not a problem.

In Adelaide we were in the Old Chamber Room, which is the original parliamentary chamber, from 1855. It is very simple and not grand at all, compared to the Victorian one, although not quite as cute as the Tasmanian one. South Australia uses a new Parliament House (1889) which is much more ornate. When we arrived on Monday morning the paper announcing the dissolution of parliament before their upcoming election was pinned to the front door, so they couldn't be opened. It was an A4 sheet of photocopy paper; I would have expected something fancier.

Somehow we arrived in Perth before we left Adelaide, so I got a chance to have a slow hobble around the CBD while it was still light. It's my second 24 hour visit to Perth, and one day I am going to go back properly and have a look around! It feels like a very open, sunny city to me, with lots of space. It is apparently the most isolated city on earth, in terms of distance from everyone else, and it feels like it spreads out on the ground.

Everyone was very chilled and relaxed on a pleasant summer evening. I found the Margaret River Chocolate Company shop, which provided bribes for the family, and had dinner in a pub next to an open window.  It was a long two days - and I'd rather be sewing - but I can't really complain...

Sunday, February 18, 2018

From the wet to the dry

I've gone from soggy humid and damp in NZ to blisteringly hot and dry back in Canberra - it's that point in February where everything is completely desiccated and there is no point in doing anything except waiting it out. The hibiscus are wilting; although they perk up quite quickly if you put the hose on them.

The grass is yellow, the leaves have fallen off the roses, the trees are drooping and washing dries in the time it takes to do a second load. The photo below isn't my grass - we went round to friends' for a bbq lunch today - but it's the same colour. Because of my toes I am not able to do any exercise except swimming - so I took myself down to the local pool to do some lengths yesterday afternoon. It was beautiful. Nice and cool (it's an outdoor pool) and not many people there. I think everyone has given up on summer, and gone to the movies, where there is air-conditioning.

My flight from Sydney back to Canberra was delayed a few hours on Wednesday so instead of a civilised nine pm return it was nearer to midnight. And up early on Thursday for another parliamentary sitting day, then a day of public hearings on Friday, then a very welcome fish and chips by the lake on Friday night with friends before eleven hours sleep and starting to feel human again! I even did a little bit of machine quilting yesterday which made me very happy. I am not at all looking forward to hopping on a plane again in a couple of hours (a day in Adelaide, then a day in Perth) but it is part of the work at the moment, and I'm not really complaining. Perth is much further away from Canberra than NZ is, which just doesn't seem right to me.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

I'm in New Zealand

No post for a week because I have been in New Zealand to celebrate my cousin getting married! I booked this trip last year before I knew work would be so busy, so there is a bit of guilt at wandering off and leaving both home and work to their own devices for six days. Especially in only the second week of school! But I am having a LOVELY time.

I have hardly taken any decent photos of anything, so here is brother, sister and brother-in-law in the kitchen. Actually my iPhone ran out of storage soon after this photo was taken so you will have to take my word for it that the wedding party was lots of fun, and in a beautiful setting at their place in the countryside just outside Rotorua. I had wonderful chats with siblings and cousins and family friends that I hadn't seen for ages.

So that was on Saturday - I flew into Auckland last Thursday, spent two days with my little sister, then we all went down to Hamilton to have lunch with my older brother and sister and their families - including ALL the nieces and nephews! I haven't seen them altogether for a very long time, now they have jobs and studies and travel around the world. Then off to Rotorua for the party and a night in a slightly decrepit motel (but very handily located) before back to my Dad's for a couple of nights in Tauranga. He is looking after me extremely well and doing all the cooking! This is fish he caught himself and saved specially for me.

The only two things stopping me having fun are the weather - which is appalling, it has rained every single day - and my toes ... while I was packing on Wednesday night I dropped my ipad on my toes (straight down, like a guillotine) and it was excruciating. They swelled up black almost instantly and the pain just wouldn't go away so we spent four hours down in emergency and had xrays. Normally I wouldn't bother for toes but given I was going to fly the next day I wanted some medical professional to say I could! Which they did. Lots of strapping, lots of painkillers, and I've really been only able to walk properly today, which has scuppered my plans to do scenic strolls and a bit of light shopping.

Instead I've been cleaning out a few of Dad's cupboards, throwing out as much crap as he'll let me, and having lovely catch ups with relatives and friends here, including fellow quilters! There is nothing quite like spending time with a fellow enthusiast, particularly when they make absolutely beautiful quilts and are happy to answer all your "how did you do THAT?" questions in great detail. Magical.

Monday, February 5, 2018

The shock of paid employment

Talk about slamming into it! Last week was crazy busy with work and this week is shaping up much the same way. Those beach afternoons of swimmings, DVDs and beer are another life and it is totally back to the treadmill. Except not actually to the treadmill because I have been too busy to get to the gym at lunchtimes. The dog and I walked round the lake on the weekend which was lovely, but not really exercise.

I finished the scrap sixteen patch quilt top. I tried to colour wash the top - graduate the colours across- but it didn't really work because it was made of random scraps! So I've put all the browns together, and that's about it.

I told number one son to look like he was thinking something intelligent about the quilt. He had his first day of college today! The ACT system has them at a separate school for the last two years, where they do their major school leaving qualification (and university entrance ranking) as continual assessment over the two years. I think they put the fear of god into the newbies, which has my full approval. He was excited but a bit nervous when he got home.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Some bad sewing

I've been sewing up a storm but there's no point in taking photos because it is very boring scrappy sixteen patch blocks. Quite fun but not very exciting. Today was my first day back at work after five weeks of glorious holiday and it was a RUDE SHOCK. Not only did I have to concentrate all day, with no time for reading books or drinking beer, but everyone had saved up all their thoughts and concerns to share with me when I came back. Most unfair, I should be able to ease back into it. I am moving into a new team so most of the day was spent physically moving stuff into my new office (approximately ten metres to the south of my old office. It's not a big change). 

On the weekend I went and saw the Starstruck exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery which was fantastic! It is mostly stills from Australian movies, with some posters, some publicity photos and some casting albums from the early 20th century which were just fascinating. The nice thing about the NPG is that they give you really detailed explanations of each picture - who the person was, and the historical context. Which makes it much more interesting to me than trying just to stare at some random art and thinking about what it could possibly mean.

The best things for me were the half dozen costumes they had included. The one above is the "Miranda! Come back!" dress from Picnic at Hanging Rock, which is a landmark Australian movie that I have always disliked. But the frocks were great.

And how about cock in a frock on a rock? Who can forget Hugo Weaving prancing about in the desert in this number. I had a very close inspection and it is truly appallingly made. The trim is just sewn on in a wobbly zigzag, there is no fastening (it's tied into a knot at the waist) and it is damn nasty cheap polyester... it totally looks like something a bloke sewed in a moving bus. Unlike Nicole Kidman's Moulin Rouge red dress which was immaculate inside and out ... with a waist I could just about squeeze my upper arm into. Maybe.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

I went to the beach

Canberra has been crazy hot the last few days - high thirties every day - so I snuck myself off to the beach. I totally offered to take the boys but they would rather swelter with internet. Crazy kids. The coast was wonderful. Great waves, great weather and not nearly as busy as earlier in the month.

I spent hours in the water - the water temp is just wonderful at the moment. A bit fresh getting in but then delightful. I have always loved being in the sea - any water really but a surf beach is my favourite. I spend so much of my life heavy and overheated, and to be cool and weightless is like heaven. I love catching waves, even tiny waves, on my boogy board and bobbing around waiting for waves when there are none to catch. I think it's the same dopamine that makes me avoid poker machines and play much too much candy crush - an addictive personality. You wait for ages for a wave and then you get a really good one and it's fantastic so you keep going. And waiting. And then when you get a not so great one you keep going, because it's bound to get better .... there are worse things for addictive personalities to get hooked on.

Speaking of candy crush, after four years and 2938 levels I deleted the app on New Year's Day. All the freebies I'd built up, all those levels, gone forever. Of course I haven't missed it one bit, what a pointless time suck. I absolutely shudder to think how much time it has taken me to get through nearly three thousand levels, especially given I refused to spend any money on it, so it is just time. Crazy.

Our beach had a massive seaweed tide while I was down. This is way more than I've ever seen there before, and it was a bit off putting to wade through in the shallows, but it stopped at the breakers. The weed just spent a couple of days coming in and out with the tides and presumably it will all wash out, or rot away, as some stage. Our neighbour says it happens every now and again.

One afternoon I went for a drive to hunt up future retirement properties .... still a long way off but it's nice to dream, and look at the little roads and isolated beaches we might end up near. This is Bingie Point, in the National Park, and it's very beautiful but not a friendly local beach. There was a big swell and some happy surfers but it looked way too dangerous for me and my little board.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Still pottering about

I have cleaned out the freezer, re-arranged my sewing threads (more a pleasure than a chore, to be honest) and glued the chair back together. I clamped it and everything! Then I used duct tape on the laundry hose (the one that runs out to the garden, we are desperately fighting a losing battle to keep the plants alive) so basically super handy person. I have gone back into work but just to change my library books - I stopped to say hello to my work colleagues but tried not to do any work. It's very quiet.

I'm watching episodes of Lark Rise to Candleford which I picked up randomly from the sale bin before Christmas. It's great! Love a bit of BBC period drama ... especially when it's reasonably light and feelgood. I'm also watching Eureka, which is completely different but also light and feelgood. That might be my theme for January. I've never watched all the Star Wars movies so my husband and elder son sat me down and we worked our way through them all over the Christmas break so I'm ready to go and see Return of the Jedi ... should I want to do such a strange thing. I must be getting old because I find going to the movies quite loud and overwhelming, and I'd rather get a DVD. And it's cheaper...