Saturday, 29 November 2014

Aussie Critters

Having discovered that I can upload pictures via the public internet at Stockland shopping centre in Townsville, stand by for a more photographic post this time!

One of the most exciting aspects of Australia, for me at least, is the wildlife. I love animals: fluffy mammals, feathery birds, beautiful butterflies or cool reptiles, I just love them all! Australia obviously has some pretty unique wildlife to get to know, and for me just seeing the wonderful creatures, and being in proximity to them, makes me feel happy. It’s a great (and cheap!) remedy for any homesickness or settling-in blues that I might feel, I just head outside and feel the wonder of nature.

SO, I wanted to introduce you to some of the creatures I have been enjoying while I’ve been here! I have seen others too, but failed to get photos, and some photos still need sorting... So I’m sure there will be another post of this nature (excuse the pun!) in the future!  (and just wait for the Maggie Island post - I can't wait to share those photos!!)   :)

These were the first unusual (for me) birds that I saw when we arrived. This is an Australian Ibis. We also have Straw Necked Ibis here - I'll get photos at some point :)
I saw these iconic cuties when out for a walk. They weren't at all bothered by me being so close to them, and I've since read that Kookaburras can get so cheeky that they will actually pinch food from people's barbecues!

There are loads of these freshwater turtles in the Ross River, which runs through Townsville - and right next to our apartment complex.

This is a Brush Turkey. They are quite odd looking!

This was very exciting for me - seeing emus!! And baby emus too!! We were taking a day trip inland to Charters Towers, and I spotted these from the car. One argument later, and I had 'persuaded' my husband to turn back so that we could pull over and take a look at them! So glad we did, as it seems not that many people get to see them (not people I've met so far, anyway).

This was another exciting spot from the return journey on the same trip - my first kangaroo! She even has a joey in her pouch (visible as the bulge beneath her tail). They were both watching us as we pulled up the car, but of course she turned around and hopped off before I could take the photo!

A cute little lizard! I've seen lots of lizards here, but being so warm they have plenty of energy and can run off really quickly!

These little beauties are rapidly becoming some of my favourite birds - they are so friendly and cheeky, they remind me a lot of my late pet budgie Casper. These Rainbow Lorikeets hang out together in groups, and at dusk and early dark, they gather together in the trees and make lots of noise with their lively chatter! They also enjoy swooping you for fun when you're riding your bike!

This handsome bird is a Red Tailed Black Cockatoo. I had never seen or heard of these before - the first I knew was when I came across a group of them on the cycle track when I was out on my bike exploring. They flew up into the tree before I could get a could shot of them. They really are magnificent (although they make a hideous screaming noise!) this one is a female with that yellow patterning, while the males have vivid scarlet-red feathers under their wings, which flash as they fly. They're really big too - small seagull-sized perhaps. Amazing!!

I hope you have enjoyed this quick introduction to some of the animals I share my new home town with! There will be plenty more photos though - I just need to sort them out and get them posted :)

Friday, 28 November 2014

Glorious Granny Stripes!

Hello everyone! I still don't have broadband yet due to a fault in the wires in our building here, so we have invested in mobile broadband for now. It's obviously much slower than 'proper' internet, but at least I can now use my laptop! What a relief!!! 

And I want to really thank you for your support over this time - I really thought that no-one would bother with blog if stopped writing, but I have had some lovely messages, even while I've been off-line for chunks of time, and it has really meant a lot to me. At such a time of upheaval and frustration, it has really comforted and uplifted me to read your messages, so I really am grateful. Thank you so much xx


At the moment, I am limited in being able to upload photos unfortunately, so while I am desperate to show off my pics of our recent trip to see koalas (so brilliant!!!) I am instead going with a crochet post. I can post this one as when I was on the free wifi at the shopping centre the other day I uploaded these photos, so now I can do the writing :)  

[You may wonder why I don't go back there and upload the koala photos - well, I did try, but my laptop doesn't fit in the pannier bags on my bicycle. So I can get to the shopping centre, but not have my laptop. Or I can have my laptop, but not get to the shopping centre... We should be getting a second car pretty soon though, which will mean I can take my laptop wherever I want! Yay!!!]
SO, crochet it is :)
It took me a little while to get my crochet mojo back after arriving in Australia. I think that this was mostly because exploring my new home town was much more exiting to start with! With its tropical birds, free outdoor swimming pools, palm trees and beaches, coffee and ice cream shops… who could resist??

But the tropics aren’t all about paradise, oh no. We are now into the beginning of The Wet – a season of high humidity, high temperatures, heavy rains and even tropical storms or cyclones! I had adapted well to the heat when we arrived, but now that the humidity has joined the party I am finding myself sweating sitting still… (sorry for that horrible image!) heading out to explore on my bicycle is no longer so appealing, and on the hottest days I have been staying inside under the fan. After reading about 8 books in a row to keep myself occupied during the days, I realised that if we acclimatise to this heat, then during the ‘winter’ here we will probably feel a chill in the nights – not perhaps enough to justify using a duvet, but probably enough to require a sheet and a blanket. A lovely, crocheted blanket of course!

Thus inspired, I rummaged through my stash – all carefully organised before we left, it was reduced to a jumble of mixed up ragged yarnballs spread over various boxes thanks to the move! I had decided to begin something totally new... Blanket-wise, I do have my Cuddly Hexagon Blanket still in progress - although looking for the link has shown me that I haven't worked on it since April! - but I was just in the mood for something new, something brighter with a simpler design that was easier to hook up – and had fewer ends to darn in!

My first thought was to make a purple blanket with leftovers from the Glastonbury, but alas there was not really enough yarn in colours that worked nicely together, and I haven’t found a decent yarn shop yet to add any more, so that plan didn’t work. Fortunately, I had other left over yarns: some were leftover from an Attic 24 pack I ordered years ago, but then raided to use for various other projects (such as the Parker & Safi Baby Blankets, purples and pinks for the Glastonbury etc.) Others were yarns bought online for projects, but that turned to be not quite right and so ended up in my stash…

I started off by sorting out all of the balls that I had 2 of, figuring that I would need this many balls to create a double bed-sized blanket. I also left out the colours that I had in greater quantities, in case I wanted them in the future (not being sure how tricky/pricey it would be to get Stylecraft out here!) That gave me the following Stylecraft Special DK colours (in no particular order):
Lavender Meadow Clematis Aster Spring Green Wisteria Magenta Cloud Blue Saffron (The other yellow in the bag is Sunshine, but it didn’t really work so I left it out in the end. I’ll find something to use it for eventually!)

I wanted to work in rows rather than on the round, to keep ends to a minimum. I thought about all kinds of fancy designs, but seeing the random collection of colours I decided it was better to keep the pattern simple, and so I settled on a simple, rhythmic Granny Stripe design. I do mine ever so slightly different to the Attic 24 one, so I will write up instructions for how I get started in another post, just in case anyone is interested :)

After making some progress with my blanket, I wondered if it might get a little dull if I carried on with just these colours...

I had single balls of other great colours that I would like to include, but I was worried about running out. Then I just figured that if I added all of the individual balls too, then it would bulk up the yarn quantity and hopefully go far enough for a whole blankie! So I ended up with this mixture:

(The new colours were also all Stylecraft Special DK, in: Candyfloss Lipstick Sherbert Shrimp Bluebell Pomegranate Turquoise and a darker Purple from which the label had come off)

So, basically, there was no method at all to the colour selection process for this project! Apart from saving the yarns that I had the most of, in case of wanting to use them for something else, I basically threw in everything that was spare from my Stylecraft Special DK stash.

The colour sequence is sort of random too, I am just taking care not to let sections get too dark or too light, and I’m trying to spread out the use of the reds and greens. To keep an even mix of colours (as I don’t want to run out of any too soon!) I am using two bags. As I finish with a colour, it goes into the second bag so I can’t chose it again until I have used up the other colours – although if I get to the end of the bag and the last colours don’t really work, then I will make a judgement call about which colour should go next… Once the ‘in use’ bag is used up, I will start over again – randomly choosing the colours and then putting back in the other bag ready for the next time.

Despite this haphazard approach, I am fairly happy with the progress so far, and I’m really glad that I’ve added in some more colours – I should have taken more pictures to show you the difference, but the extra colours have really brought it to life (although now I think the first few rows look all wrong – hopefully a bit of a border will fix that!) and I particularly like the addition of the Pomegranate. I love that colour!

So here it is so far, 13 stripes down and looking good I think! (It's now a bit bigger than this so I will take more photos for another update)

My Leftover Granny Stripe :)

Thursday, 20 November 2014

I'm In Australia!!!!!! (Still Can't Quite Believe It!)

Hello again!

It has been a little while since I was on here last, and I’m afraid that this won’t be a brilliant post either… Since I was here last, we have moved into our apartment, which is pretty exciting! At first we were provided with a rental pack of furniture and essential household items, so that we could get by, but soon afterwards all of our stuff (well, most of our stuff…) arrived safely from its journey halfway round the world.

Only a few things were broken, although a couple of things were a bit upsetting – I was most upset by the shattering of my Iznik decorated plate that I got from the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul, while Adam was most upset by the shattering of the clay tagine we got from the souks of Marrakech. My Iznik plate hung in pride of place in our last home, while Adam often used the tagine to cook delicious meals, so both items will be missed lots :(    That said, I think we were lucky that so few things were broken, and so far we have only noticed that my tool box and a pair of flip flops have gone missing. I have heard of entire shipping containers falling overboard, so it could certainly have been a lot worse!

Although we are now set up in our new home, we are having lots of trouble getting internet connected. In our area the only available internet is ADSL – which goes through the existing copper wires of the phone network. After waiting a couple of weeks for an appointment to have this switched on by an engineer, it didn’t work! We had to go back and arrange for it to get checked out.  A few days later an engineer arrived and connected it properly – the previous engineer had connected the wrong block of buildings entirely! After the new engineer had switched on to the correct cable, she came up to our apartment to check that the signal was working. Alas it was not! She used her equipment to ping the lines, but nothing was working at all. Why not was/is a mystery, as previous occupants had been connected. Unfortunately, the problem lies beyond the region of responsibility of the network company, and within the building responsibility. This means that I have to apply through the ‘Body Corporate’ for our ‘units’ (apartments) in order to get anything done. Several days after writing to them, and I am still waiting to hear back. Rubbish!!

Weirdly, there seem to be no caf├ęs around here that offer wifi, so heading out to sip coffee and use the internet isn’t even possible! But!! All is not entirely lost: yesterday I discovered a shopping centre with wifi, so I am uploading this from there. Phew!!

My plan is to write up a few posts in advance, and then upload them all as and when I get the chance. Hopefully then I can publish them from my phone if I get onto wifi, so I’m not carrying a laptop with me all the time! We’ll see if it works – I’m really hoping that I will be able to add photos!

Soooo, I thought I should take this opportunity to tell you a little about my transition from Britain to tropical Australia!

It’s obviously a huge wrench to leave behind everything you know, and to move permanently to a new place where you have never been before. I knew this, and yet it was still far more emotional than I had realised it would be. I felt pretty terrible as we took off, as the realisation hit me that I was actually going. I did hear afterwards that it has happened before that people arrive in Australia and immediately book their flight back home, as the moment of leaving home affects them so deeply that they realise that they can’t leave, and now I can sympathise with that feeling!

This is a beautiful place though, and despite some emotional ups and downs since arriving, I do like it here and I already have a bit of a plan for what to do with myself, having discovered that my UK qualifications don’t translate to over here (more about that another time).

I’ve met a few other people who came over here at the same time as us, and we all seem to have approached things slightly differently. Some people had a child to think of, so they have gotten organised very quickly. The rest of us without children are all at different stages – only one of our little group can use her qualifications here (she is an Aussie though, and she studied here in the first place!) so she has recently started work. The couple I know the best have taken a pretty laid back attitude to things, and are taking it slow with regard to everything both practical and fun. Another couple have been having loads of fun and doing and seeing so much, while putting practical boring bits on the back burner. Adam and I have done a bit of each – with Adam pushing the boring bits, and me lobbying to have fun too. So we now have Queensland driving licences (Australia does driving licences by state, rather than nationally), a car, basic medicare cover, our electric plugs have been switched over, and hopefully soon we will have internet! We have also seen loads of interesting wildlife, been on a couple of trips to Charters Towers and Magnetic Island (which I will write about separately) and explored the town’s coffee shops, walking routes, shopping centres, and swimming pools etc. Wow!

This is quite wordy now with very few pictures, so I thought I would try to upload one picture of the view from our balcony - we live in an apartment complex that has a really great pool, good enough to make up for the fact that our new home is pretty small and we can't quite fit all of our stuff there comfortably! I’ve taken the image from my own facebook page so it will be compressed, and will hopefully upload ok!

Fingers crossed, I’ll be back with more as soon as I can get it all written up and uploaded.

Take care everyone, and hopefully I will have my own internet again soon!

D xx