Monday, January 14, 2013

DSC_1165 [ps] - Bearing DownFlown. Australia goes on for a very long time, though it was mostly haze, though you can see the prevailing wind direction in the land. Landed late on New Year's Eve (Abu Dhabi couldn't cope with the traffic, so the queue for security at one terminal started in a different one), collected from the airport, dumped luggage, driven out to quaff champagne and watch the fireworks on the city buildings glittering beautifully in what turned out to be the outflow from the power station.

The next day was a fair bit of sleeping (going to bed at 3.30 am is great for beating jetlag, because it means you can't tell) and being shown around the city, plus a bike ride round to a convent that was mostly shut (summer hols here).

Wednesday was heading to the southern suburbs to explore a bit, discover that I wasn't very far from a friend who I hadn't quite contacted before leaving, who was a brilliantly muddled when he stopped trying to walk past me and eventually recognised me. I assumed it would be tea (well, water or juice) and a chat before leaving, instead it became heading out for gelato, wandering round St Kilter (I saw the penguin pier, except it was the wrong time of day) where the conversation ran between the two people who didn't know each other, then heading into town to the market with him, just before they shut, so half price fruit (Australians get gouged on everything, a bowl that costs £12 in John Lewis costs $60 here).

The next day was... oh, I'm not doing well on remembering. There was giant scrabble in the evening, so most of the day was just prepping for that.

Oh, I didn't get very far with this and it was actually an email to one half of the audience. It's now a while later.

Big Scrabble, a last minute Kubb (fun but, er, there are those who score and those who wave sticks about while waving Pimm's) and a barbecue in a taxi, plus assorted meetings of people.

Friday was more town wandering (in a hairdrier), then dinner at Stairs', featuring an ailing, um, quick blogname, Landing, and a scaredy cat and not so much one (and some annoyingly good food), with Ahab and Jezebel and Omega's other Alpha or Siemens or something to be decided upon. Then out to a pclub to be puzzled by drag acts and then watch burlesque performed by males with predictably punny name, which was not wholly bad, with a remarkably well recovered Landing. We waited until the outside temperature was below body temperature before leaving. We saw the second show.

Saturday was, well, planned and booked before we knew Friday was happening, so featured getting up a few hours later, driving out into the winelands (and burnt out lands), to be dumped at a winery to sample their range (good to unpleasant) while the driving couple go to be assessed for suitability to adopt a puppy, while I watched swifts picking off midges and an ibis picking through the bins. Lunch at a brewery with a beer sampling thrown in (good to unpalatable; the stout was like drinking a recently quenched fire, complete with grittiness), then a quick dog supplies buying expedition as the woman with the puppies had decided to drop the get-out clause inspection so Jezebab could take him that day. And so off to explore the tree ferns of a place that lies (there are no badgers) and to buy some wine from a weddinged out vineyard and so not.

Then came puppy. Which didn't seem to go anywhere near as badly as the passengers were expecting.

And already I've forgotten when things happened. Somewhere there came riding down the coast to a beach near the Queen's beach hut. I'd missed swimming in the sea. And the sea here makes you swim properly, because like Swannidge it has cooler lower layers, but it also has sandbars rising into the knee zone.

I think the next day I saw Ned Kelly's bucket and read his history wondering why exactly he is so celebrated (bushranger = outlaw) and discovered the turncoat who became Speaker and other fine characters, and that the town was once upon a time know as Batmania.

What else? I cycled past where I meant to go upriver off the edge of the map and then slowly round via a few detours (oh, hello Ikea, and oh, so those Gardens are actually a shopping centre), from where I got me to a nunnery too late for cake and so headed home in the rush hour over streets where either Apple Maps did the line painting or the tarmac forms bow waves on each tyre.

Oh yes, cycling here largely seems to work, though am in a fairly inner place (it's scarcely urban yet so much less suburban than further out) with very few hills of note. The trams a bit odd, as they're here's tube, but seem to stop if not every block then every other one, so cars overtake. But it is quite a nice place, if occasionally provincial and outright American in parts (and presumably British in the parts I don't notice as odd).

Yep, so big cars, big streets, power lines up poles, and charges of jaywalking (yes, I've seen the police do people for it, and yes, people ignore the rules but instead of checking for traffic check for policemen at intersections, you know, because that's safer).

Anyway, back to the narration. On Saturday One and Doppelganger (he's bizarrely like one of my brother's friends in look, sound and manner) drove us (so mein host Omega, Three Oil or whatever he is, and me) out of town about ninety degrees over from last time up to Mt DefinitelyGreekNotYugoslavianOrIndependent, which is something akin to a hill station, being a cool, leafy hill full of expensive houses, with occasional empty plots with rusting gates, where presumably the insurance didn't cover rebuilding (oh yeah, Alpha's earliest memory is leaving when the fires went through; their house survived but few others did and they decided that was bit too close).

So we went for a walk though the assorted aged woods at the top, with view back through the mostly smoke haze to the spiky yet tiny city, and had a not quite picnic sitting on overhanging rocks overlooking that fey film featured earlier in this sentence.

Oh and along with the skinks and forget-me-nots (um, garden escape much?) we also saw an echidna (or two; we came back the same way and saw another but it might have been the same one). Instead of doing what it traditional (and what the first one did) which is to stick its arse in the air and dig into the ground, this one looked up a bit then kept rummaging among the mint being pretty much unperturbed by us, which apparently is really bloody rare (perhaps the mint swamped its sense of smell [though we were upwind] or maybe it's like catnip for monotremes). Um yeah, so basically I had to be dragged away, although the act of dragging prompted the echidna to shuffle off down the hill. And so we walked somewhat more livelyly back to the car, cool nature stuff having trumped the flagging bit.

And so home to order take away Thai because the Moroccan was closed for four months because it's summer and to play a board game, called Flash Point, in which one has to save people from a burning building (I may have done a dramatic slump at one point during the explanation of the rules, which I suddenly realised I'd done in public). The easy version we managed fine. The intermediate one we made jokes about who would get to rescue the dog, and so who would end up being interviewed on the local news (guess what the penultimate news story on Sunday was?), and killed off too many people including getting blasted out of the house ourselves, so decided to keep going to see what would happen (we managed to kill off the false alarms and rescue the remaining people, though only by fluke and with one damage marker left unused, deployment of which would have also finished the game).

Sunday was lazier, with brunch with friends of Omega's skipped because they wanted to meet at some ungodly hour (don't they know brunch is basically lunch?), then out for it anyway at some hipster place in the 'Swick (I've no idea what they actually call it, but it won't be the actual full name. Bruinies maybe), with a waiter giving a private dance to one of his friends, the owner commenting on the grammar on my t-shirt, the amusement of some couple bringing a set of parents in, to sit waiting for a table looking and feeling out of place for so long the eventually only the mother was left, and our waiter being the youngest who seemingly had never heard of any of the things we ordered.

Later we went into town to buy fruit (dalla manga, dalla manga, many dalla manga, al dalla manga) and quibble over names (butternut squash/Japanese pumpkin, mange tout/snow peas, peppers/capsicum, aubergine/eggplant, but if we're doing quirks of food how about a croak mon-sure and eggs flow-rent-eyn?) then head over the carnival at the start of their summer queerfest, which turns out to be some cute guys, some really shouldn't be pulling that face guys and some tents in a dustbowl. We didn't stay long.

Anyway, better stop now as need to clean things before this evening, oh, and there's a wattlebird a few feet away watching me.


It's now May. Long gaps make me nervous.
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