Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Home improvement

When we had our house built we couldn't afford an undercover area on the side of the house. In retrospect we should have just bitten the bullet and stopped drinking for a while in order to afford it (joke?).

As an alternative Homer and #1 spent one very hot day laying paving stones on the "patio area". Due to the fact it was very hot and Homer and #1 were not, well, skillful, the patio now has more curves and bumps in it than a roller coaster. But it does stop the mud being tracked into the house, and it gives the chickens somewhere to stand without getting their feet dirty. It acts as a storage area for everything that doesn't make it back into the house, old bikes, woodchippers, a barbecue, my seedling trays and an old bathtub full of dead herbs, you get the picture.

Their plight was not helped by the fact that the largest pavers we could buy are about eight inches square, and the area is a good three hundred square feet. It was a very long, very hot day. I sensibly stayed at the old house rather than watch the degeneration of their relationship in glorious technicolour.

This area floods when it rains, and the rest of the year stores heat and uses it to microwave the house. We need a roof on it.

At the weekend at the DIY store I saw a gazebo. Two of those I thought , end to end, my roof. I am a genius. Homer, picturing himself trying to put them up was less enthusiastic but my enthusiasm knew no bounds. I bought two.

Yesterday I rang home, have you put them up? "No, I was waiting till the week-end". Small oh noise from me. One of the advanatges of a large number of boys is the ability to make grand sweeping architectural demands of them and walk off, leaving them feeling the need to be practical.

I got home and there they were my men, wrapped in flat pack hell. There were poles and nuts and bolts and shade cloth and tears and swear words. "Did you read the instructions?" ( We don't need a vote do we....of course they didn't.) I found the instructions, pinned them to Homer's chest with a meaningful look and stalked off to make dinner. ( I didn't look at the instructions, then I may have been forced to help.)

Several hours later I have one gazebo over my patio. It is beautiful. It shades the area and fits beautifully. None of the boys are talking to each other, but that just gives me peace and quiet to enjoy my purchase. As a bonus, by some random act of chance all the feet are level with each other. The floor between....well....but the feet are level.

Number four has tightened all the bolts and screws, and this morning before school went out and put the pointy bits on the roof. I caught him on the way down.

Now I just have to hope the second one appears alongside the first as if by magic tonight. I have helpfully pointed out that the second will be easier now they know what they are doing. This was not greeted by enthusiasm.

P.S. I have just noted that the first item of furniture installed has been an old tyre.

Me" Who put that old tyre there?"
#4 " It's mine"
Me " Where did you get it...and when."
#4 "I need it"
Me" Where did you get it?"
#4" I'm going to build my motorbike there."

I'll deal with that later.

Monday, July 28, 2008

In the news today...

Two items of news have made me laugh out loud today. Firstly, Gordon Ramsay had a near death experience, which I am sure was terrifying, and I am glad he survived. That is not the funny bit. At the bottom of the news report I read was, " and he got bitten by a Puffin." I'm sorry, I just can't stop laughing at that.

Secondly the Chinese have announced that they have set up a special lab to sex test athletes of suspect gender. We can all think of past competitors of dubious genetic origins and I can see where this has come from. But they have announced that they will test athletes of a suspect gender firstly on appearance. Now if it was me pretending to be a woman to win an olympic medal I'd have the electrolysis, and the implants, and the hormones, and the makeup and the hair and the clothes.... and I'd look a lot more like a woman than I do on a bad morning now.

Following this to its logical conclusion means that the athletes of suspect gender are probably going to be "unfeminine" women....Just how insulted would you be, "Um excuse me um, madam? um could we like you know, well do a genetic test to be sure you are a female?"


I just read the DCS's answers to her tag and I'd forgotten that she took over my job as the most bad tempered cafe waitress in Derbyshire.

It was a small cafe, frequented by truckers, bikers and climbers. Our role was to serve the customers and trade insults with all comers. We were good at both.

I think we got quite famous for the poor quality of service, and often got stars dropping in on their way from Manchester to Sheffield. I can remember Human League (from Sheffield), Def Leppard (from Sheffield), Boy George (from another planet at that time). Imagine the horror of going somewhere to get insulted and getting ignored.....

I still have a circle in hell reserved for people who deliberately walk on newly washed floors in muddy boots, and still offer up sugar as a yes or no option, not a how many question.

"Do you want sugar"
"One and a half please."
"Yes or you want sugar?

or there's,

"Three slices of toast."
"Say please"
"Three slices of toast, please."
"You can only have an even number of slices, the toaster won't do an odd number."

Any way I can't have been that bad or my sister wouldn't have got the job when I left for university. I think she added a new level to the family reputation.

I like to think my customer service skills are better now, I just think the thoughts, sometimes very loudly, rather than vocalise them.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

I got tagged

I got tagged by Journeyer for a meme.

Here I go,

What were you doing ten years ago?

I had just started a new job, and found out I was pregnant, on the same day. A bit of a surprise as I had been told three times I couldn't have children and here was number three on the way.... I really must stop people telling me I won't have any more children.

Five things on my to do list

Finish diet articles
Finish Diabetes book
Finish Chicken book
Stop starting things before I finish the last thing
Find out where #4 is, he's just disappeared.

What snacks do you like

I miss sausage and stilton sandwiches...I know...they can't make cheese or decent sausages here. My waist doesn't miss them at all. Now I eat fruit.

What would you do if you were a billionaire

Hire a cleaner and a nanny. Sleep. Travel.

Three bad habits

Procrastination, procrastination, and getting distracted by something else.

Five places you have lived

Isolated Derbyshire
Moss side in Manchester
Isolated Devon

Five jobs I've had

Very rude cafe attendant
Night body receiver in a morgue
Barmaid in a biker bar
Pharmacist in a prison
Chief cook and bottle washer in an asylum...oh that's here.

How did you name your blog

I keep thinking about changing it, it's not very original. It was late at night and I was tired. My sister kept saying " Do a blog, Do a blog," so I did.

Now I have to tag three other people, For no reason at all I pick.

The traveling first regular reader, and a very interesting read.
My sister for getting me into this
Mim, simply because its the most recent blog I've started reading.

BTW anyone....what's a blog award...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Smiley Saturday

I recommend you try out Lightening's Smiley Saturday post today....I definitely got a laugh out of this one.

My smiles this week are because I finally got my freezer. Now I can store the excess vegetables I produce instead of boring the children to death with the same vegetable, again, again, and again. There are only so many ways you can hide green beans in a meal before they get wise to you, and only so much green tomato chutney you can make. ( BTW adding blue food colouring to carrots and calling them something else doesn't work, and looks awful, and the pan's looking a bit ropey.)

The box the freezer came in gave #4 a whole new project in the back yard. He always used to wear red t-shirts. Only red, only ever red. I was quite happy about this. From the corner of my eye I could always be aware of where he was without concentrating too hard on the gory details.

Recently he has taken to wearing camouflage, only camouflage. Now I can't be entirely sure of where he is when he's in the garden. I have considered buying him a red bandanna to overcome this. (It's no problem in the house....he'd have to camouflage himself with dust bunnies and old newspaper.)

Anyway the point of the story. Camouflage boy and his big cardboard box went into the back yard. He set up a trap. The trap is big enough to catch a man, I got a freezer in it. (Lets not picture an eight year old boy manhandling it into the backyard.) #4 and the cat lay in wait in to see what they would catch. I didn't like to spoil his creativity by pointing out that he was in camouflage, but the box wasn't. I might have lost part of the vegetable patch to his renewed efforts on the box.

I thought he had little chance of success, but he was quiet and not damaging anything, always a bonus.

So far he has caught all the chickens, individually and in a group, next doors blind shitzu, several dopey Minah birds (much to the cats joy, I intervened there)and of course his brother. The blind shitzu only fell for it once but his older brother has been trapped several times. I think when #1 comes home from work I'll send him into the garden and see if he falls for it.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Travel problems....

There are some things they don't tell you about in guide books, or phrase books.

Imagine you are in a country where you don't speak the language, maybe enough to order a coffee, but that's all. Any language, Italian, French, Spanish even Chinese.

Now imagine you find something crawling on your body, you have no idea what it is. Go to the chemists and try to explain that you think you have crabs, in the foreign language.

Well, we get all sorts in the shop and today I got an Italian lady trying to explain what she thought she had, in a language she had the barest grasp of. Obviously the language of love is international or she wouldn't have caught them. The initial moments of the conversation complete with sign language are something I shall remember for a long time, I thought maybe she had some mental disorder at first but we got there.

My boss has been taking Italian conversation classes, it crossed my mind to ring him. Then I thought, " Would they really cover this in Italian conversation?" If they do it puts a whole new view on Italy for me.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

How to hate your favourite song...

Homer has to get up at an unreasonably early time in the morning to take #1 to work, so early in fact that I am not sure it really exists. Initially he set my alarm to this hour. It went off, I woke him and reset the alarm and theory has it went back to sleep.

Of course lying there for half an hour making sure he had got out of bed, and having to put on the light to reset the alarm was not working well for me. In fact it was working so badly for me that on several occasions I slept through the alarm, or turned it off in my sleep.

I persuaded him to use his phone as an alarm, it does after all have an alarm feature. This works well for me, except for the fact that the tune that he uses was at one point one of my favourites.

It goes like this, " All around my hat I will wear the green willow, and all around my hat for one year and a day, and if anyone should ask me the reason why I'm wearing it, it's all for my....punching noise." The original doesn't have the punching noise, that is my addition.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Clothes and teenagers...

Number one got his first ever tax rebate this morning. " Mum, MUM MUM!!!!"

"What is it oh shining light of my life and most precious first born? " (OK it was 7 in the morning on a Sunday, I was a LOT ruder.)

" I need clothes.....NOW". I asked if we could possibly delay the trip until the shops OPENED?? mmm?.....

We arrived at the shops and I asked him what he wanted, " I dunno."

" OK, what do you need?"

" I dunno"

"Please, please turn on your brain, there are only a few hung-over shop girls and us in an entire shopping centre, please....."

"mumble mumble boxers, mumble mumble." I can see his point, I have after all been washing his boxers and some of them are more delicate through age than my smalls. Off to Big W and he disappears and comes back with eight pairs of boxers, four pairs of socks, two work shirts, a pair of work shorts, one pair of jeans, one zip up jacket, a smart shirt and five t-shirts.

All this while I was distracted by a pink bra. In less time than it had taken me to look at said bra, examine it minutely, check the label, stitching, size, price, possible related bargains and colour against a mental check list he had been around all the clothing racks, made his selections, paid for them and was ready to go home.

I did check he had all the right sizes. I like this male shopping thing. Last time I took the girl child it took us over half an hour to get from the car park to the mall, what with checking her clothes were adjusted, and her hair was right and re-checking her hair, and clothes, and make-up. It then took over two hours to pick out one sodding t-shirt in that hell of all stores Supre. The music, the staff, the giggling girls. If I'd had a sharp implement with me I don't know whether it would have been them or me but it would have been one of us!

I shall take the male children shopping, and myself, the girl child can go with her giggling girl chums. I am officially a grumpy old woman.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Not so smiley Saturday

I started my smiley Saturday post, and everything I wrote was so not smiley...I am under a few writing deadlines and the keyboard is giving me guilt trips when I am not writing what I should be. So much for natural creative processes! So I stopped and went for a walk.

The sun is shining, but not so much that it sears your eye balls straight out of your head, the birds are singing and the grass is green. I have come back in a much better frame of mind. Note to self...don't force it, go for a walk.

So it's not just me....

One of the first shocks in Australia was the price of things...this post from one winging pom says it all.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

How the cat amuses herself....

The cat spends about sixteen hours asleep a day, has a few snacks here and there, plays with number 4, which leaves her with a few spare hours to kill each day. I have recently become aware of just how she is spending this time.

When we first got her as a little kitten I was worried that she would be eaten by the dog next door, which is a small elderly schitzu. The fence is a wire one and I was sure she would wander and be savaged. "Don't worry," said Homer,"the dog is deaf and blind, it'd have to trip over the cat to find it." I was only slightly calmed because I know Homer hates cats and would be glad if she was eaten.

I didn't need to worry though, the cat soon worked out that the shitzu couldn't see or hear her. One of her favorite games now is to run up to the dog and bat it on the bum, and then retire to a safe distance as the dog runs in circles searching for her.

When she tires of that game she goes to the back fence and sits on the top of it. This drives the rottweiler that lives there insane with anger. It barks and yelps and snarls and foams and runs up and down the fence howling. Eventually the dog's owner appears at their back door and screams at his dog to " Shut the F**** up." By which time the cat is no longer on the fence.

She has been known to repeat this trick several times in an hour. I admit I found out about this trick when I went to see what in the name of God the dog at the back was barking about, and caught the cat slinking off the fence, and then observed her repeat the trick. I haven't visited said neighbour to complain about his dog barking.

After all this activity it is time for a rest. She does this on a sunny patch of grass in front of our other neighbour's floor to ceiling windows. This has driven the Beagle in residence literally around the twist. I found out about this when I noticed that they had put peculiar curtains up at three feet above floor level. Not a good decorating look, in my opinion. I mentioned the curtains to the neighbour, and was told about my cat's afternoon activities.

My neighbour said, "I'm sure that cat knows what she is doing." I was about to disagree and comment on the coincidence of the position of the afternoon sun, and then I considered the cat's other hobbies. I kept my mouth shut.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Going to the doctors

As I previoulsy mentioned #3 is so cool he's on his back. Nothing phases him and he takes life as it comes. As long as he has the complete DVD collection of Stargate he is happy. (He can talk along with many episodes he knows them so well.)

He has had warts on his hands for some time and they won't go. We have tried everything from leaving them alone (I was assured they go away after six months, apparently not.) to burning them with acidic solutions. Nothing works, although the acid solutions did take the surface of the kitchen worktops. The only wart that has gone is one he knocked off himself.

So to the doctors. The doctor is freezing them off, but because some of them are so big this has involved repeated visits. #3 is not happy about this but he goes along with it. Not this time.

Homer along with #3 and #4 were all in the waiting room, quietly catching whatever diseases passers by cared to give them. Come in #3 called the doctor. Number three immediately curled up on the floor with his hands under his armpits and screamed and screamed and screamed. The doctor looked nonplussed, the oldies looked shocked, other parents hurriedly left with their precious bundles.

Homer picked up #3 and bundled him bodily into the doctors room. The screaming didn't stop. Number 4 thought this was hilarious and was doubled up on the floor laughing, and he to had to be carried into the doctors office, but for different reasons.

The wart freezing didn't go well and only one or two of the targetted warts were overcome. Homer says I can take him next time. Number 3 looks doubtful at this prospect as he knows the same performance may not be allowed by the mother monster.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A day out

At long last a day out. We decided to take the small children beach fishing and packed the car up after they had gone to bed on Saturday, that would be about midnight....shades of Christmas eve there. They could smell something in the air.

Bright and early (all right early) on Sunday we set off for the beach with at least twenty small children in the back of the car. Well it sounded like it, oh for one of those glass partitions they have in limos!

#1 was hungover, at least he was transparent from lack of sleep and #3 decided he would find out where we were going soon enough if he went to sleep and we woke him on arrival. He is so chilled out I don't know how he ever stands up.

Of course #4 climbed into the back and knotted the fishing lines, opened the packet of frozen squid lips and found the knife, all the while with me writhing in the front seat trying to reach him with my shoe to clock him one. Good look for passing motorists.

I had carefully packed two towels, Homer said they wouldn't be swimmimg, why bother...I ask myself , "Has he met our children?" I left him to dress them, more on that mistake later.

" Are we there yet? are we there yet?"...." Not yet, we haven't left the drive yet."

We drove south for an hour, through lovely tropical scenery to the sounds of snoring (#1 and #3) and " Are we there yet?, What's this? can I...ow!,why is this slimy? this smells funny, ha-ha it sticks to the window, look!" with me responding with "Put that down, if I could reach you, put that down!" Interestingly all this accompanied by the BBC world service, because local radio stops as soon as you drive south of Cairns.

We arrived at the beach, carefully selected for its gently sloping sands and small surf. Number 3 took off like a rocket and straight into the water fully dressed, that's underpants, pants, t-shirt and thick woolly jumper. I dragged him out and stripped him off to his underpants, all the while giving meaningful looks to Homer, to be greeted with " What, what?"

I spread his clothes on the sand to dry and half-nelsoned #4 on his way to the water, sitting on him until I had him stripped off, only to discover he was going commando. More meaningful looks at Homer. "What, what?"

You could spot the local family on the beach, that's us dressed in jeans and jumpers, the tourists are sunbathing.

The rods were untangled and the squid lips applied to hooks and I rested reading a book in calm and tranquil surroundings, only broken by the screams of my children in the water. These I could ignore, after all it's not my house they're trashing.

The fishing led to number 1 catching a log, some sea weed and a couple of crabs. He's really embarrassed that I keep saying he caught crabs because he thinks I don't know what the other crabs are, so I keep saying it. I may say it to his boss tomorrow, #1 caught crabs at the weekend.....

I did take pictures but am tecnologically challenged and will await Homer uploading, downloading whatever it is.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Noises in the night...

I was fast asleep last night when I heard a loud crashing noise, it must have been loud because I was fast asleep and the noise woke me, and I could still hear it. I lay there in bed wondering what had woken me and staying very still. (You know monsters under the bed can't find you if you lie very still.) Quietly into the silence Homer whispered " What was that?"

Now I know that the noise was loud, it woke the sleeping giant. " I don't know." We lay there a bit longer. Did he think I was going to have a look? No fear, he man, he big hunter, he could go and get eaten by the monster under the bed, and more importantly he could get cold.

Eventually he sighed and left the bed, grumbling and moaning. I heard thumps and bangs, I heard the back door open, I heard some muffled swearing. I listened carefully for the sound of something trying to get him...." ********* cat!"

The noises returned to the bedroom. " What was it?" The cat was apparently knocking on the door to come in. She had climbed onto the screen door and was bouncing on it to attract attention. She is a small cat and how on earth she was making that much noise is a mystery. Perhaps she had got a local lion or tiger in to help her, which had quickly run off and hidden in the undergrowth when Homer appeared.

The cat is usually inside, except when out playing with #4, so I can imagine that she was extremely upset that she had accidently been locked out, but not as upset as Homer was at being woken to let her in.

Join smiley saturday here. ooh, and this appealed to my bad parent side.

I did a silly thing, I joined a weight loss challenge. Not that i don't need it, but now I'm going to have to do something about it!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Teenage woes..

Or rather the woes of the parent...

I have picking up duty for #1 when he finishes work. Now I finish work after him, and so he is expected to walk or catch a bus for the short distance between our two work places. This should take him about twenty minutes. If he can't manage it I will pick him up at work, he only has to wait there. Is this too much to ask? Yes.

So far this week, on the first day he finished at four and I finished at six. I rang him, "Where are you?" " I don't know." " What do you mean?" " I'm'm." "What can you see?" " Shops." ( No s**t Sherlock, I work in the town centre.)" Which shop can you see?" " Ummmm..." " Look at the sign...can you read it?" (Remember he is 17..) " Oh! Yes, I'm at.*****" "Stay there , I'll come and get you."

Day two and after a stern warning he had to be at my work by eight. At six I rang him. " Where are you? " " At the bus stop." " Good, see you soon." At seven I rang him, " Where are you?" " At the other bus stop." "Excuse me...get on the next bus..." At eight I rang him. "Where are you?" " At ********." " How did you get there? That is ten miles in the wrong direction, stay there, I'll come and get you. "

Day three, I finish at 4, I am coming to your work, stay there! "Where are you?". "At your work, where are you?"

We did try "Be where we want when we want or you're walking", this led to several after midnight trips back into town, and when you get up at five am that is no fun. I have to think of another plan.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

New glasses

I have been telling Homer for some time that he needs glasses for driving, usually in a shrill voice accompanied by the phrase " BRAKES, please in the name of god BRAKES!"

Finally he went to the optician and had his eyes tested and ordered his glasses. Today was the day they finally arrived and he went to collect them. This was all done in top secret, mainly to annoy th s**t out of me I think. By the time I got home from work I was in a fine old state to see the new glasses.

I rushed through the door and stood in front of him.

" Show me , show me, put them on."

He obliged, carefully placed them on his head and looked at me. " Oh my God!" he exclaimed.

"What, what?" I cried.

"I thought I'd married the other sister."

He cracks himself, up he really does.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Milla says she loves child #4, mmmmm, that would be with the benefit of half the planet between him and her microwave. I think the sole purpose of #4 is to enable other parents to have someone to point at and say, " See, we aren't as bad as his parents, our child doesn't do those things, well not ALL of them."

I ought to update every-one on the bridge though. Child #4 has succeeded in bridging the ravine in the back yard and is now pondering the possibilities of an opencast mine beyond the great divide. This has involved recruiting all the neighbourhood children to dig a big hole in the backyard.

All the boys are dead keen and I'll soon have a new pond, something I've been trying to get Homer to do for a while. ( The possibility of a pond and the fact that I can see the boys from my writing window are why I have allowed this project to continue.) The girls don't join in, they sit around talking about how silly the boys are, whilst keeping a furtive eye on them. So nothing changes as we get older then.

A large part of my day at work is spent commenting on how silly boys are, whilst keeping a furtive eye on them.

As for indoor activities for the school holidays, well Homer needed to mend the phone so he got the soldering iron out. ( Yes, child #4 had broken the phone by taking it apart to find the ring, I'll show him the f#####g ring!) I don't know why he did it, but he left the iron unattended to get something for at least thirty seconds, which is about twenty-nine too long. He returned to find a paper clip soldered to the cooker.

I have had words with both boys, the small and the large, concerning soldering and the suitable times and places to carry it out. The large boy looked suitably embarrassed but #4 had already moved on.

I should be grateful that the cat was catching up on a missed sixteen hours of sleep whilst the soldering iron and digging activities were underway. The cat had had a busy morning learning to skateboard with #4, she seems to quite enjoy it.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Expat musings #2

So we got to the house we had been provided with and all fell into a deep and dreamless sleep. (Twenty-four hours of screaming had at least tired out #4.) I imagine that my fellow passengers had arrived at their chosen destinations with stories to tell of screaming babies and bad parents to keep them busy at dinner parties for months.

When I woke up it was even hotter. Well I thought I better ring "home" and let them know we have arrived. I had no idea what time it was where I was, never back in the UK. ( Slight hiccup in the watch adjustment department.)

I picked up the phone and there was a silence, followed by a strange whirring noise. Apparently this is the dial tone in Australia, a sort of pregnant pause that you just feel you have to say " Hello, hello?" into, followed by a noise that sounds like the phone is broken. Seven years and I still get confused with the noises that issue from the phone. There seems to be no consistency with the noises, you just sort of dial and hope.

After several attempts, double checking with the phone book, waking a small child to see if he could work it out, and accosting a stranger in the street..

"Excuse me, yes you,... excuse me can you come and tell me if the phone is working? and how to dial it? ...Please? "

The poor man must have thought we some sort of care in the community refugees, but it goes to show that Orstaaaalins are basically friendly people. He was a great help, although he did keep his distance from us, and it gave my mother a bit of a turn when a complete stranger rang her and in an Australian accent said " G'day, yuritethere? earsyurgirl. " ( hello, how are you, here's your daughter). We didn't even offer him a drink, what with the getting of a plane and sleeping thing we didn't even know if the taps worked... can you drink the water?

In retrospect I was wearing clothes I had had on for two days, more or less, and had been asleep for eight hours, I must have looked pretty scary; and that was before Homer (a very large man) appeared (loomed?) behind him in a state of semi undress. MMM he probably thought he had been lured into an axe murderers den. We haven't seen him since, well not if he saw us first.

First thing my mother said, " Have you any idea what time it is here!". Well actually no, I don't know what day or time it is here, never mind what time it is there.

So I told her about the croc at the airport, with a quick aside into "They call that an INTERNATIONAL airport."

Next tasks, transport, money and food!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Musings on being an expat

I just realised that is now seven years since we arrived in Oz, and it got me pondering on how we've done with our big move.

The flight here was a traumatic experience, twenty-four hours on a plane with four children, at the time aged 10, 7, 2 and 1 was NOT FUN. We arrived in the middle of the night expecting fairly similar temperatures to the UK, after all summer there, winter here? Right? No, wrong, so wrong. It was like being hit around the head with a warm wet towel, and it was 3am, it was as low as the temperature was going to get.

This was followed by a wild taxi ride to a rented house. (I left all the travellers cheques and passports in the taxi, having travelled exactly half way around the world I lost them when I arrived- the taxi driver actually came back to the house and returned them--wow! what a great country-honest taxi drivers.)

The taxi driver took great delight in telling us, much to our dismay, about the croc he had nearly run over the previous week at the airport. We have since found out that this is a fairly regular occurence at the airport. You may survive the crash landing, but then you have to avoid the crocs waiting at the end of the runway.

We have acclimatised fully to the weather now though, and as I sit here typing I am freezing, wrapped in winter woollies with only my nose showing. We can spot the tourists very easily at this time of year. They are the ones wearing micro dresses and shorts while the locals are wrapped in ugg boots, scarves and duffel coats.

When we first went to a shopping centre after arriving we stared in amazement at the offerings of thick jumpers, coats and scarves, " Who buys these things?" we asked each other. Its so hot! The answer, we do.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Smiley Saturday...small man still at it.

Smiley Saturday is here again. Child #4's enquiring mind has been at it again this week. Homer's car battery was going flat so he went to have it replaced, taking the small children with him as it's the school holidays.

The poor man doing the work had never been subjected to the Hobbit inquisition before. It's like Chinese water torture, only more relentless. Questions that aren't answered are repeated until an answer is obtained. Questions that are not answered fully are followed up on, if the answer seems to be avoiding the point then more probing missiles are launched to pierce holes in arguments. Poor logic or contradictory information is mercilessly jumped on.

As an example, " Do you work here?"..."Yes". "Do you get paid?", "How much". " No, exactly how much and how often?" ( Homer intervened here and explained that the boss was doing the work so he didn't get paid, he just paid everyone else.) " Who does he pay?" ..."the people that work here" ..."So does he have any money left each week". "Just enough to give the tax man his money and buy petrol for his car."

"What are you doing now?"... " How much do you spend on petrol a week?"..." No, exactly what size spanner are you using and why are you taking that bolt off first?"... "What happens if you take the other one off first?"... "Will you die if you do it wrong?"... ( Always at the forefront of #4's mind in view of his activities.)... " How many of these do you do a day?"... " How much do you charge?"... " So that means you get $xxxx a day, how much do you pay the men who work here?" Another question headed off by the father of the hobbit.

The questioning went on for the full length of the battery replacement. Number 4 employs the wrong foot technique of questioning, he asks questions along several different threads simultaneously, returning to subjects you thought you had covered and got away with later in the conversation.

The battery replacement was probably the quickest and most stressful job the poor man had had to do that week. He commented at the end of his ordeal that the Gestapo couldn't get information out of him now, and we should hire out #4 for training SAS recruits in interrogation, how to do it and how to withstand it.

" Is he always like this?"

" Yes"

" How come he's still alive?, No wonder you look stressed out."

Children were loaded back into the car and they left. Imagine the man's horror to see them return five minutes later. " Oh no! I mean is there something wrong?"

" Um, no, I thought I was watching him, but you might want these back." Sheepishly Homer returned two spark plug spanners and a hammer.

"How did he get those? He was stood next to me watching all the time, how did he.." Homer said the look of confusion on the poor man's face was nearly worth the embarrassment. He couldn't really blame Homer for #4 having liberated the tools as he had never seen #4 leave his side or pick them up either. " I was worried for a moment that he had follow up questions" Nervous laughter.

And he's not even started on "Where do babies come from?" ...yet.

You Were a Lynx

You are a great knower and keeper of secrets.

A bit psychic, you can bring out hidden truths.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Sometimes I could just....

Todays paper features a full page story from a "self-confessed" hoon. He is protesting against the new laws that allow the police to take away his $50,000 baby if he is caught repeatedly hooning. (Yes, he refers to his car as his baby.)

He says that it amounts to stealing by the police if they take his car off him, and goes on to say that,yes he does speed, and disobeys road rules, and bullies other drivers out of his way if they don't shift. He sees nothing wrong with tailgating or speeding through school zones, or doing burnouts and donuts on residential streets.

Of course he is young and has no children playing on those streeets or attending those schools. He can't see that repeated fines and driving bans don't stop habitual offenders, and cheerfully admits that when he has gone over his points he drives without a license or insurance, because insurance is a rip-off.

I feel like clipping out the article and keeping it for ten years to show him when he has a family, or after he or one of his friends has killed some-one. (Hopefully that won't happen, but it happens every day.)

Up until now the cars were just taken for a day or two but this seems like it will be a permanent thing for repeat offenders. Every day repeat drunken drivers, unlicensed drivers, and uninsured drivers are reported in our paper. The post makes a point of photographing the newly banned drivers emerging from court and getting into their cars to drive home. How does our hero suggest the police deal with these people?