Monday, July 30, 2007

Weekend wanderings

Last night Chris and I ventured out to Ruby's Lounge in Belgrave for the grand final of their unsigned band competition. We went to support Charles Baby, a friend of Jacinta from work, but some of the other acts were great too. It would have been a very difficult comp to judge, as the bands all played distinctively different styles of music. There were two great male bands, the first of which gets bonus points for use of a double bass, while the second played everything they could get their hands on, from the standard electric guitars and drums, to a tambourine and a whistle. There was also a grunge girl band, but we went outside while they were on, although I'm sure they'd be great if that was what you were in to. We had to go before the last act and the judging so I have no idea who won.

Apart from the chance to hear some different music, it was great to see Jacinta outside of work. She goes to Ruby's regularly, and Chris and I both intend to go there again, it's a great venue, the dress code, as stated on the wall, is simply "shoes", and, perhaps influenced by the location nestled up against the hills, this allowed for an interesting mix of bohemian and other alternative types, along with the jeans and t-shirt crowd. No drunken louts or bar fights, just a bunch of people looking for a good night out, and great original music. It was also a refreshing change to go to a pub and not come home reeking of cigarettes, with my eyes stinging from smoke. The only other pub I've been to since smoking was banned on July 1 was an Irish pub which stank of Guinness anyway.

Edited Tues 31/07 to add: I discovered tonight that Charles won the competition, the prize was studio recording time. If you want to check out some of his music go to his myspace.

On Saturday we saw the Simpsons movie at Century City with a few friends. I can take or leave the Simpsons generally, and had my doubts about whether they would be able pull off the movie after 20 years of exhausting their idea pool, but it was good for a few laughs. There were definitely some cringe worthy moments, but overall the movie came out on top. Afterwards we went out for coffee on Kingsway.

On a completely unrelated note I'd just like to say a big hooray big brother is over and done with for another year. I only know this because I accidentally stumbled onto the finale. The down side is that this means that Idol will be starting up again. There is no escape!

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Boy Who Lived

I've finished Harry Potter, and OH MY GOD! its just... and then... but... and Snape.. and... whoa!

and they all lived happily ever after... except the ones who didn't

Grrargh why can't you all have read it, can't say a bloody thing without spoiling it.

I will say that this one is going to be very hard to fit in one movie, there's a lot going on, its very intense and no wasted space. There are some huge revelations.

At least the kids who got hooked when the series was new are now old enough to read it, so not a childrens book.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Spot the difference

Well, finally managed to get an almost decent photo of my latest acquisition. I actually decided a couple of weeks ago to get it, but was waiting for a cold to subside. If you don't like it, blame the boy, he paid for it :P

Before anyone arcs up about how I'm going to manage with my allergies, I did look into it very thoroughly beforehand. I checked with various sources - internet, piercers, and piercees about whether being prone to a runny nose would be an issue, and the general consensus is that it may take a bit longer to heal, but shouldn't be a major issue. Just in case, I got it done with titanium, which is supposed to be better for healing.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Retail Therapy

Well, here I am on night shift, armed with the new (and final) Harry Potter and ready to stay up til 8am. I'm up to page 236 since buying it Monday afternoon so might even finish it tonight. I'm going to be good and not put any spoilers, but I will say that the first 100 pages are very intense. I wasn't going to buy it yet but it was only $28 from Kmart so I figured what the hey. I really need to re-read the others though, I'm remembering details as I go along. Monday turned into quite the shopping spree. I also got one of those shiatsu massage things that you strap to a chair, and something else that Chris has made me promise not to tell you about until I have a photo to put up. Grrr.

After the shopping spree we went home for a bit to recover, then back to Knox to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at VMAX. I really enjoyed it, I thought they did much better then the last one, which had some very jerky transitions. Of course with such a long book they did have to cut some stuff out, they brushed over the details of Sirius' home, the painting of his mother, and Kreacher the house elf, for example, but on the whole it was very good. It can't have been easy deciding what to leave out when they didn't know what would be touched on again in the then unpublished books. At least that wont be an issue for the production of the remaining movies, all they have to worry about now is the aging cast. The twins in particular were looking much older, and are also no longer identical; one is taller and their noses are different.

In completely unrelated news, Suki is doing well. She isn't eating very much, but she is having small amounts regularly, including some dry food. She is still way too skinny, but does not seem quite as frail anymore.

Nothing much else going on really, Monday was my only day off in a while since I picked up an 11 hour shift on Sunday. Hopefully this weekend coming up will be a little more eventful. The weekend after that I've picked up the Saturday and Sunday active nights, in addition to my regular Wednesday.

Stay tuned to find out what else I got on Monday, its very difficult not to spill now that I have all this free time to blog.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Suki update

Well, after another couple of hundreds worth at the vets, miss Suki now appears to be on the mend again. It seems we were a bit premature in thinking her better last week, she seemed to have stopped eating again and when I took her to the vets on Saturday she had lost a further .2kg, bringing her down to a bony 3.8kg total. After a couple of days more of antibiotic shots she is eating again, only a tiny amount, but she seems to be eating slightly more each day, and to be wanting it more.

We've been shutting Suki in the bathroom with food a couple of times a day so that a) she could get to it before Sumi, who is now almost twice Suki's size and weight and very pushy when it comes to food, and b) so that we could see how much she is actually eating. We tried her on whiskers mince today, at mums suggestion, which she seemed to really like, so we'll switch to that one for a while and she how she goes. She's only been wanting mooshed up whiskers casserole in gravy up until now.

Monday, July 16, 2007


I've added photos to all the posts about my holiday for those interested in going back and having a look.

Day 1,2 and 3
Day 4 and 5 - Paluma and fishing
Day 6 and 7 - Billabong santuary / about town
Day 8 - Magnetic Island
Day 9 - Townsville to Cairns
Day 10 - Daintree
Day 11 - The Great Barrier Reef
Day 12 and 13 - Kuranda

Here are some tree photos which mum was interested in but which didn't make it into their relevant posts.

Things I'll bet you never knew about...

Need a reason to eat your vegies?

- help stabilise blood sugar levels and so are useful for managing sugar cravings. They also help fight cancer, viruses, and prevent heart disease. Yay carrots!
onions - contain high levels of an antioxidant which stops the formation of cancer cells, is anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and anti-viral
beetroot - is great for detoxing and purifying blood, and boosts the immune system. It enhances the production of disease fighting antibodies, white blood cells, stimulates red blood cells and improves the oxygen supply to cells. It also contains properties which help prevent cancer and heart disease.
tomato - boosts the immune system, helps to prevent cancer, and protects the body from toxins.
pumpkin - contains high levels of cancer preventing carotenoids, and is also rich in vitamin C for immune function.
chillis - even small amounts of red chilli contain high levels of the anti-viral, anti-cancer and antioxident beta-carotene. They help prevent damage caused by toxins, and can stave off cancer and premature aging. Chillis also contain a natural analgesic, which can ease headaches, arthritis and sinusitis. Chilli also has mild mood-boosting properties (increased by combining with chocolate!).

Sunday, July 15, 2007


The other day I decided to treat myself to some new toys. I bought a set of four good cocktail glasses and a shaker. Of course the ingredients cost more than both of these combined but what the hey!

Due to my allergies, the range of alcohol I can tolerate is fairly limited, the range of cocktails even more so, as a lot of them involve added dairy or sugar. Just as well I like the ones I can have! Here are some of my favourite drinks, and one I want to try. Vodka is well and truly my drink, hence my blogs name, so it features strongly in all of these. Strangely enough I've never taken to the screwdriver, which is vodka and orange and probably the most popular way to have vodka.

Note: a measure is approx. 30ml, which is roughly equal to a shot glass or the lid of a cocktail shaker. Ingredients should generally be poured in order of alcoholic strength


2 measures vodka
1 measure cointreau
1 -2 measures cranberry juice
juice from half a lime

shake with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass, garnish with lime slice

Bloody Mary

1 measure vodka
4 measures tomato juice
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
squeeze of lemon juice
dash Tabasco sauce
pinch salt
black pepper

pour over ice in cocktail shaker and strain into highball glass (tall glass) with ice cubes, garnish with celery stick or sprig of mint

Sea Breeze
(haven't tried this yet, but plan to)

crushed ice
2 measures vodka
3 measures cranberry juice
3 measures grapefruit juice
lime wedge

pour the vodka over crushed ice in a highball glass, follow with cranberry and grapefruit juices and stir gently, decorate with lime wedge and drink with a straw

Savage chickens

I think a little comic relief is required after a post like the last one, these really tickled my fancy (at least, I hope thats what they were tickling :/).

I especially like 'My Jesus can beat up your Jesus'.

This world we live in

If you haven't already, I strongly urge you to read this post by yarn harlot, about an American rape case in which the Judge has banned the use of emotive words such as 'rape', 'assault', 'forced' and 'victim'. Apparently he feels that words like that imply that a crime has been committed (really? here was was thinking that court rooms were for hosting tea parties). It turns out that it's not rape until the jury says it is. This begs the question of how one is supposed to convince the jury without using any of those words, especially when the jury do not even know about the language ban. Saying 'he had sex with me' is hardly likely to do it. While the court is on the subject of semantics they might want to rethink the term 'justice system'.

Rape and sex are in no way the same thing and forcing (whoops) the victim (whoops again) to describe what happened to her without calling it what it is just makes her look and feel stupid, as if she hasn't been through enough already. No wonder so many rapes don't get reported, those woman have been through such a hard time already and then the ones who are brave enough to report it have to go through an even greater psychological ordeal.

This 'blame the victim' mentality is sending us back to the 50's, when woman were just supposed to lie back and take whatever the man dished out. Assault victims should be supported in every way possible, not made to feel guilty for speaking out against their attackers.

I'd say 'only in America', but the sad reality is that this could happen anywhere, it is only the amount of outrage that varies.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Day 1, 2 and 3

Well, I've finally posted about my holidays in detail. Wanted to wait until I could do it all in one hit. I've broken it up mainly in lots of 1 and 2 days, depending on what days had lots of photos.

We arrived in Townsville around 9.30pm on June 19th, and were met at the airport by Chris' sister jen, whom we were staying with. That night was just spent getting settled in. We arrived during a week when the whole east coast was having strangely cold weather. I was assured that the weather was normally much nicer. It was generally not too cold for me, but it was overcast and dreary for the first week.

On our first full day in Townsville we met up with Chris' mum at the local shops, and she came back with us for lunch. We then went round to Chris' friend Ron's place, who had just gone back to Townsville himself after living in L.A for a few months. He had stopped over in Melbourne for a few days on the way to L.A and I had met him then. We went with Ron for a driven tour of the city, and went up to the lookout at Castle Hill, from where you can see the city, bay and islands. Thats Magnetic Island in the first two photos. Where we are staying is about 5 minutes around the other side of Castle Hill. After getting back to Ron's, Chris and I met up with Jen at his old home for dinner with his parents.

This is a shot of 'The Saint' on Castle Hill. He appeared overnight following a local footy game several decades ago and promptly became a local icon. The council had it removed a while back and was met with so much protest that they wound up putting him back up there!

Our second day in Townsville was the coldest on record, at a chilly 14C, which is mild to average for Melbourne in June. As it was also wet, we had an indoors day, only venturing out for lunch and to go to the shops. In the evening we met up with Ron and some of their other friends for a game of pool and a movie (Oceans 13 - not too bad if you can resist the urge to pick it apart).

Our third day was still cool but not too bad, and we went out for lunch with Chris' mum at the new riverside complex. We ate at Cbar, where I had beautiful grilled barramundi. The staff there were very attentive and we had coffee and cake after lunch then went for a walk around the grounds and down by the river, before going to Chris' parents place to play cards with his mum for a while before we had to meet Jen. That night we dropped Jen off in the city, went out for dinner and then to the casino.

My overall impression of Townsville is that it is a beautiful city, one which i would very much like to visit again when the weather is doing what its supposed to. I found the little things interesting, such as trees and birds that we don't get down south. There were lots of falcons and sea eagles for example, and green tree frogs just hanging out on window sills.

Day 4 and 5 - Paluma and fishing

On Saturday June 23rd Jen, Chris and I headed to Paluma, the rainforest in the clouds. En route we stopped off for morning tea at Chris' uncles place, where I met a bunch of lovely people I had no hope of remembering the names of.

An hour or so later we were back on the road, driving past sugar cane fields and pineapples towards mountains fast disappearing into cloud. The drive up the mountain itself started much like any other small windy road through the bush, but the scenery soon changed to dense rainforest. The cloud trailing through the forest made for interesting atmospheric effects. At certain points one could easily imagine the headless horseman riding out of the mist, sweeping past the vines which dangled from branches arching over the road.

We drove all the way to the huge man made reservoir on top of the mountain, where we got out to stretch our legs. Again the mist made interesting effects. The water appeared white, and we could feel and see tiny water droplets which were so fine that they did not cause any ripples in the lake. On the drive back we stopped in the village for something to eat before returning home.

Later that night we were all relaxing at Jens, and after she went to bed Chris and I decided we felt like doing something, so we ended up going for a late night stroll along The Strand, Townsville's main beach. We ended up walking a fair distance, and stopped for a coffee before returning. It was a beautiful walk, and a lovely mild night for it. Afterwards we went to the casino for a little while before calling it quits for the night.

The next day Chris and I met up with Jen for lunch along the strand before heading off to go fishing with Ron and his dad, Ron snr. We went out on one of the creeks in their new boat and found a spot where the fish were biting constantly. This was my first fishing trip. I caught a few little guys that had to be thrown back. Chris was the only one who caught anything big enough to keep; he caught a flounder, a brim and a big mangrove jack, which is an expensive reef fish. We gave the brim to the Ron's, had the flounder as part of our dinner and saved the big fish for later in the week.

Day 6 and 7 - Billabong sanctuary and about town

On Monday June 25th we went to Billabong Sanctuary with the boys parents.

Billabong sanctuary is pretty much what you'd expect from an Australian sanctuary - free roaming roos, koalas (which I discovered are smaller and fluffier up North), birds, snakes etc.

Two things made it different than a Victorian Sanctuary - cassowaries, which are like a small emu with head gear, and crocs, both freshies and the big estuarine beggers. As the weather had been cool and wet the crocs were not eating (they shut down in cold weather), but the show was still informative.

Under the fruit bat trees we saw dingos and cassowaries being fed (not one to the other), and I held a koala, juvenile croc and a carpet python (not together). The Americans were funny with the reptiles, one woman in particular kept jumping back during the demonstration every time the snake looked at her, and when it was her turn to hold it was keeping her arms out as far as she could while saying 'quickly- take- the- picture- quicky- quicky- quicky' through gritted teeth, and had also announced earlier that the croc felt slimy. I don't understand people like that who insist on holding reptiles and turn it into a big drama. Meanwhile the snake was more interested in my camera.

That night Chris' parents came round for dinner then we headed over to Ron's for a night out with the boys. We started off playing cards, then went to one of the other guys places for some fire twirling, which was a bit different. We then headed over to another place for late night munchies before heading off.

The next day was spent just hanging around town, and also planning the rest of the holiday. We went to the open air mall in the morning. We had a nice lunch then went looking for thongs, which I wanted for the beach. As it turned out the place I got the thongs from had a buy 2 pairs get a third free deal so I had to buy some other shoes as well, then one pair turned out to be too big (hard to tell with the security tag) so I exchanged them for two pairs which were on special and only came to $5 more then the pair I was exchanging... I had to get them... they made me.

After the mall we went home to plan for the following day, then went to sizzler for dinner, which was much yum yums. I bought a main to go with the buffet incase their wouldn't be enough I could have, but as it turned out I needent have bothered, the buffethad an excellent range and was very fresh. We then met up with Jen and Craig, who had just returned from the mines, for coffee at Cbar on the strand, then Chris and I went for a late night walk along the beach. I loved the novelty of being able to go for a pleasent walk at night in the middle of winter, people who go for late night walks in Melbourne at this time of year certainly don't do it because its relaxing.

Day 8 - Magnetic Island

On Wednesday June 27 the weather finally cleared for our trip to Magnetic Island. We caught the ferry around 10am and were there 15minutes later. The ferry came in at Nelly bay and from there we walked to Alma bay, one of the smaller bays flanked by large boulders. After relaxing there for a bit we caught the bus back to Nelly and hired a mini moke, which we drove to Horseshoe bay on the north side of the island. After a quick stop at one of the tourist shops to buy a headband to stop my hair from whipping my face in the topless moke, we had a relaxed lunch at one of the pubs, before wandering down onto the beach to soak up the sun for a while. We then drove back past Nelly bay to Picnic bay, which apparently used to be a tourist hub but is now only inhabited by locals as the ferry point has moved from there to Nelly. While at Picnic bay we walked out onto the pier, which offered a good view across the water to Townsville, and checked out a large curtain fig which I knew mum would be interested in. Mum would have enjoyed Townsville if only for the variety of birds and trees.

We then headed to a rocky outcrop which we had been told was inhabited by a colony of rock wallabies. These little guys were coming close enough for people to throw them food, but had enough healthy fear of humans left not to get any closer.

We headed back to Horseshoe bay to relax for a while and to catch the sunset, and watched schools of mackerel jumping close to the shore, as well as something poking its head out, possibly a turtle. After sunset we headed back to return the moke and catch the ferry.

That night we had dinner with Chris' parents. His mum cooked the mangrove jack that Chris had caught earlier in the week - beautiful!

Day 9 - Townsville to Cairns

We got up bright and early on Thursday the 28th of June for the drive to Cairns. It is a 4 hour drive straight through and we had detours planned. Jen and Craig were driving, and were staying in the same hotel as us until Saturday before going to the Tablelands.

The road to Cairns was mainly surrounded by sugar cane fields, which get a tad repetitive after a while, however we also drove through the land that was hit by Cyclone Larry last year. The vegetation was recovering well although you could see where the damage was caused. Many of the larger trees were lop sided and scraggly.

Our first stop along the way was mission beach, a beautiful wide sandy beach lined with palm trees and offering beautiful views. The cassowary speeding sign was from the road into mission beach.

We then drove on to the Tablelands, which is essentially rainforrested mountains with a flat top.
I have a theory that the top of the tablelands was cut off at some point and wacked down near Townsville to become Paluma, The mountains there come straight down to the road heavily forested without much change in the slope, then the land flattens out abruptly at the base to become fields. We made a few stops as we drove through, at one of the little towns for lunch; at the Curtain Fig Tree national park to take photos of the big curtain fig for mum ('there's a quilt in that!'); and for coffee at a lake which filled a volcano crater, which I keep forgetting the name of.

We made it into Cairns late afternoon, and after checking in to the Mecure harbourside and settling into our rooms, which in Chris and my case were on the 5th of 7 floors facing the mountains, headed into town to do some shopping. I bought sunnies and new bathers, and Chris bought boardies. We then met back up with Jen and Craig and went out for a seafood buffet dinner at Charlies, which Jen and Craig recommended and which turned out to be right next to the hotel.

Day 10 - The Daintree

On Friday June 29th Jen, Craig, Chris and I met downstairs for our buffet brekkie, then drove to Port Douglas for lunch, stopping along the way at a lookout over one of the lovely bays.

While in Port Douglas I had the best seafood Thai green curry, with beautiful fresh prawns, mussels and baby octopus. We then went on to the Daintree for a River train cruise along the Daintree river. The Daintree is the largest rainforest in Australia and the oldest in the world at over one hundred and thirty-five million years old, and is home to an amazing array of wildlife. Our tour guide was very informative and knew where all the crocs could be found, as well as details about each one. We only saw a small part of the rainforest, but even in that small span of river we saw three territory-holding male crocs, along with a couple of small, well concealed juveniles. We would have seen females as well but a motor boat sped past us and startled them into the water. We also saw a sea eagle and egrets among other birds. The croc photos are well worth opening full size for a better look,we were able to get quite close. See if you can spot the juvenile in the photo of branches. You'll need to open the photo full size, he is very well hidden but very clear once you spot him.

After the cruise we went for a walk along privately owned boardwalk, but did not see any wildlife other than mosquitoes. We did however see this pretty little waterfall.

Day 11 - The Great Barrier Reef

Saturday June 30th we were up bright and early for our reef cruise with Sunlovers, part of our holiday package. After our buffet brekkie Jen and Craig dropped us off at the pier before heading to the Tablelands for the rest of their holiday.

We were headed to a section of the outer reef which was 40km off shore, so we had a long cruise before arriving there. After about a 1.5 hour cruise we arrived at the private pontoon at Moore reef, and after attempting to get to the snorkeling gear through the crowds of pushy tourists, we gave up and had our buffet lunch first, then a semi-submersible boat tour to let the food settle. While on the boat we saw a couple of turtles, but did not manage to get a clear picture. After the boat we hit the water. Snorkeling was great, I have only snorkeled once before and that time the fins were too boyant for me, this time was much better, I also turfed the life jacket fairly early on so that I could dive (the life jackets were not mandatory, but of course the cruise line is legally obligated to strongly recommend them). The fish and the reef were amazing, we saw big schools of little bright blue fish and zebra stripped fish, big multicoloured fish that I think were parrot fish, 4 foot long ugly buggers, and others of all shapes, colours and sizes, as well as a giant clam. No rays or clown fish, or further turtle sightings unfortunately. After a while we got out and had a cuppa and went on the glass bottom boat. On return I went back in the water, while Chris elected to stay on dry pontoon. I'm glad I went back in because this time I saw even more big brightly coloured fish, and the tide must have come in because I was able to get further over the coral. I probably could have gone even further, as others did, but I was very aware of not getting too close as coral is so delicate that one can easily destroy centuries of growth with a careless fin. I did not want to get out again but did in time for the fish feeding before our return trip.

On arriving back at the pier we went for a walk and had dinner at Bull Bar, where I tried Morton Bay Bugs for the first time (a little sweet and overpowering after a while, I think these are something best eaten as part of a buffet rather than as a main course). We then returned to the hotel for a relaxing evening.