Thursday, December 30, 2010

Two sides of the coin

The Christmas spirit is alive and well in the Halfwit Sundays. Well, in some of us at least ...

Just got back from attending a firies call out. A lady had fallen off her scooter and had minor injuries. Yes, firies also attend motor vehicle accidents in the Halfwits.

Once assessed and loaded onto the ambulance to be taken to the mainland, the lady was understandably concerned about her scooter. If we left it by the roadside, who knows what would happen to it.

Spotting a woman across the road in her garden, I walked over and introduced myself.

"Would it be possible to put the scooter in her garden behind the gate?"

Wearing firies yellows and having an ambulance in the background, it was pretty obvious, I thought, that this was no prank.

"No" was the reply. "Get someone else to help."

"And a merry Christmas to you, too." I thought as I returned to the scooter.

Busily writing a note which I was planning on attaching to the handlebars, I heard a call from the house next door. An elderly gentleman came out and asked if he could help. On learning of the problem, he immediately offered to push the bike into his yard, under the house to protect it from the weather. He even apologised for not coming out sooner but he was extremely deaf and had heard nothing.

Thanks Harry. People like you make the Halfwit Sundays a lovely place to live.

Georgetta, I only hope you are never in need of assistance. What comes around goes around.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Scribbly gum

Our garden is covered with huge pieces of bark shed from our scribbly gums. Pieces up to 2 metres long dangle from the higher parts of the trunk, waiting for a high wind to tear them off and sail them through the air.

I love the scribbly gum - the smooth pale trunk, the spreading canopy which protects our garden from the fierce Queensland sun. The brown scribbles are amazing - caused by the larvae of the scribbly moth. It doesn't harm the tree and appears in many eucalypts. However, it is more apparent in the scribbly gum.
I love to pick up the pieces I find on the lawn and look at the markings. Like some ancient hieroglyphic language, they speak of the journey of the larvae climbing up the tree trunk, moving sightlessly to find the smoothest route and finally coming to a halt when they reach the pupa stage. Here they burst from the tree to pupate in the litter at the bottom of the tree.
I've never seen a scribbly gum moth ... very small, only 1-2mm in length ... but I'd like to thank them for their artwork in my garden.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Extreme measures

Just spotted a shocking news story in the Brisbane Courier Mail online.

A bomb detection robot has rolled off the back of a police van at the Brisbane jetty where a man has threatened self harm, prompting officers to close down part of the city centre.

A 100-metre exclusion zone was set up around Eagle Street pier after the 54 year old man moored his boat to the inner-city wharf and alerted police about 5am today.

Police have refused to confirm if any explosive devices have been reported on board the yacht.
However, the man has been seen holding a jerry can and a 30cm long bayonet.

A police officer said at the scene the man had requested a bacon and egg McMuffin.

However, the request has been made after McDonald's 10.30am breakfast cut-off time.

Police say they are trying to fulfil the request.

Will McDonalds give in this heinous demand? I wait with baited breath ...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Long TIme No Sea

Not strictly true, for we are always on or beside the sea in the Halfwit Sundays. Just a play on words really. But it has been a long time since I blogged.

I'm still loving the Halfwits, both the islands themselves and the Halfwits that inhabit them. A special blessing to those who make my day by their determination to be themselves

... to Top Hat Bob who wanders round the island with a top hat and a weiro on his shoulder. Even into the supermarkets, for it is, after all, the Halfwit Sundays.

... to Tinkerbell the goat and her owner who drives her around the island.

... to the lady who refuses to give in to the mediocrity of middle age and has a broad swathe of cerise from forehead to neck ... a flat mohawk, so to speak.
... to the houses in Beelong Street who have given their houses dodgy names .... "We Beelong2", "Beelongitude", "Beelongatsea" ... etc.
... and to the wannabees in Mawarra Street who called their house "Whywudyabeelong".

... to the couple up the street who won't cut their grass because the plovers have nested in their garden and the two chicks are tottering around the yard, fiercely protected by mum and dad.

... to the family behind us with their myriad of huge white muscovy ducks which sit on the fences, out of the way of the rottweiler.

... to Doug the Digger, Al the Hat, Steve Plumber and all those tradies who bear the name of their business in true olde englishe tradition.
... to the fact that we look after our own, even those slightly damaged by birth or misfortune. If you live in the Halfwits, you are one of us and you belong.
I'm proud to be one of you.

Monday, April 19, 2010

I wasn't sure when our dragonfruit would be ripe but decided today was the day. In between showers, Guy climbed the ladder and grasped the first of the fruit, only to be covered with tiny ants.
Ï think we've left it too late." he said, as the ants ran all over his hand "The ants seem to have beaten us to it."

Nonetheless, he detached our three dragonfruit and I carefully placed them on the grass, huge gaping cavities in their sides vomiting forth copious amounts of tiny ants.

I decided to take them inside anyway to see if we could salvage anything, especially as they were of the red variety. Previously, I had only tasted dragonfruit with the white flesh, which I have found somewhat tasteless.

The skin peeled off very easily and I cut away the bits which the ants had exposed to the air. There was quite a lot left and we tasted it curiously. Very, very sweet and perfumed was the verdict. Looks - 10 out of 10. Taste - I'd give it a 2 but then, I like half ripened fruit at best and don't like anything sweet.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Sailing to Straddy for Easter

We decided to sail to Blakesleys Beach on North Stradbroke and spend part of the Easter Weekend camping with friends. There was a strong southerly blowing so we had a good wind behind us on the way up the channel from Macleay Island.
Although we were staying on our boat, we took our tent for a friend Julia who was coming to camp on the beach. Unfortunately, we didn't take the poles. The result is somewhat strange but apparently good enough to sleep in.

Of course, there was a fantastic sunset. Absolutely amazing to sit on the beach with friends, watching the sun go down over Australia. Living the dream ......

Judy, Robert and Guy sitting down for a bbq dinner with the obligatory half a dozen bottles of red wine.

This goanna kept hanging around the camp, hoping to grab a feed. Overnight he got hold of Judy's loaf of home-made bread and scoffed the lot!

We slept on Bonnington, of course. The weather made the bay a bit lumpy and Guy found it difficult to sleep. I didn't notice. Either the red wine or my usual ability to sleep on a clothesline.

Plenty of boats arrived the next day. We stayed till Saturday and then headed home. Two nights on a boat is our limit at the moment, especially in a stiff southerly.

Oddments - Dragon Fruit, Tom Yum, Chillies

We have a wonderful crop of small but very hot chillies on our bush. Just right for some hot spicy food.

And here is one of the results of those wonderful yellow flowers that our dragon fruit plant came up with. Yay, dragon fruit on the way!

And what did we do with some of the chillies? Mmmm, Tom Yum Goong. Fresh banana prawns courtesy of Baz up the road, Kaffir lime leaves courtesy of Robert and Judy. And a lot of work from Guy. Alene tasted. Yum!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dragon flower

When we bought the house in Noonmuckle Street, I thought it was some kind of cacti growing up the tree in the back garden, mixed with a bougainvillea.

But later somebody told me it was a dragonfruit plant. Badly situated, I thought, for dragonfruit are supposed to grow over a log and fruit when they reach the highest point. If our dragonfruit waited till it reached the top of the tree, we would have a long wait and an even longer climb!

But last week it flowered. Three beautiful yellow flowers. They only last a day or two but were a delightful surprise. I don't know if they were pollinated or not so I'm unsure whether we will have dragonfruit.

Halfwit Wedding

I can't believe almost a month has passed and I haven't posted the fact that I got married.
Guy and I finally made it to the altar (well, the garden and the celebrant) on 6th February, after over 14 years of unmarried bliss.

When Guy proposed (see previous post in June 2009) we then set out on the difficult task of setting a date. With five children and partners scattered worldwide, this wasn't easy. The girls were fine - they both live in Brisbane and even the two nurses could organise shifts that far in advance. But the three men .... another story.

Dan said it had to be before March when he was going to Canada from the UK. Adam said it shouldn't be at Christmas time because fares from the UK were extortionate until February. That left February ............

Doug said it couldn't be 20th February because the biggest Adventure Race of the year was on then and he had already entered. 14th February is my birthday but, being Valentine's Day also, we thought a great many couples would be planning their own romantic weekend.

So we set the date for the 6th February. People came from all over. From the West in a posse of family and friends and hockey team-mates, from Darwin as a freewheeling gypsy sister-in-law, from London via Singapore, from London via Uzbekistan (don't ask), from Melbourne, from Sydney, from Caboolture, from Brisbane and from all over the island. 130+ in all.
We set up a marquee in the neighbouring empty block and tarted up the garden. 8 cases of wine, 2 cases of bubbly and 10 slabs of beer sorted out the drinks. Surprisingly, all we have left is a lot of soft drinks. (I knew we had over-catered in that department!)

Instead of gifts, we asked islanders to bring a plate of fingerfood each. And did they ever! Inga next door made four tortes, best friend Judy made six pavlovas, sausage rolls and goodness knows what else. What a treasure! She also ran the kitchen for the day, ably assisted by cousin Cath and other friends.

Friends all over the island put themselves out to accommodate our immediate family and various friends. How truly fortunate we are to live in such a loving place!

Of course, the wedding went off brilliantly. The rain held off for the ceremony, everyone looked lovely and we partied on until 3am.
The less said about the next couple of days (cleaning up the disaster zone) the better. Now I know why people go on honeymoon! Wish we had!

But we stayed because Dan (youngest son) and Sarah, his girl, stayed over for a week after the rest had gone home. My best friend Jane from Darwin stayed for a week also. We sailed, we ate, we drank, we laughed .... great memories before Jane headed for Tweed Heads and Dan and Sarah for Byron Bay, Melbourne and the UK to go on to Canada.

A great day! Here's to married life!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Australia Day in Paradise

Happy Australia Day to everyone out there!
What perfect weather to celebrate our National Day. We started off with brekky on the back deck, shared by a baby kookaburra.
He's very sweet and gentle, despite that sharp beak. Still has all his fluffy baby feathers.
I save leftover bbq sausages as a treat for him but he has to fight for his meat, as the baby magpies also enjoy them.
Our first pineapple was also a treat for the day. Tiny but delicious, this golden gem came from our vegie garden, the first of many, we hope.
Unfortunately, our Tamarillo tree is no more. We had a week of very heavy rain and came out one morning to find it had fallen over. The root ball seemed to have rotted. I don't know much about fruit trees - this was in the garden when we came to the island - but I can only assume it wasn't planted correctly and the roots were not teased out properly when it was planted. What a shame!
Before the rain, we had a long dry spell and our mango tree seems to have died. Either that or it was poisoned. The big mango tree in the next block is also dead. Our new neighbour on the other side of that block, Warwick, had to have his septic cleaned out because the roots of that tree had invaded the system. We suspect he might have poisoned the tree in order that it didn't happen again. And the poison probably spread to our tree. A great pity. We shall cut it back and see if it recovers.
But back to Australia Day!! With five other members of the Boat Club on board, we boarded "Bonnington" and sailed to Blakesleys Beach on North Stradbroke. It was a perfect day for sailing, just enough wind to fill the sails but not too choppy for the people on board who were not used to the heeling of a yacht (power boaties).
Blakesleys was almost deserted. On the horizon we could see wall to wall sails at Horseshoe Bay so obviously the nor'easter had discouraged the mainlanders from trying for Straddie. Yay! We had the place to ourselves.
We soon set up a bbq and enjoyed a glass of sav blanc or a XXXX whilst the snaggers sizzled.

(Why does Queensland beer have four Xs and Mexican Beer only have 2?)

A fantastic day and a great trip home with no problems. A bit of lubrication on our furler seems to have almost solved the problem with the jib. We just need an extra pulley to alter the angle that the sheet comes out of the furler. I think that will solve the problem.

Happy Australia Day everyone!!