Total Pageviews

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Doggie doors, Cyclone Dylan snores, and Cyclone Ita roars


Holy cow!

Its been nearly six months since I blogged to you all.

My abject apologies; life sometimes gets in the way!  That's my excuse and I'm sticking with it.

I have been hearing from some pals that they have been unable to post comments to this blog.  I hope I have rectified that situation (I've just spent about 40 mins trying to sort it out...) so all comments I hope, should go to my Google+ page for the blog.

If you can comment on the Google+ page or this one, please do! Or go to my Facebook page: Magnetic-diary and leave me a comment there.  That one works, I know.

So... without further ado, I will tell you what I have been doing since my last blog in October.

I'll actually start in reverse order for a change.

Then maybe I'll dance around my diaries and see what comes up.

Now, you would have seen the pics of our dog Eric, (Silky terrier) and Hugo (white poodle crossed with we know not what) but lets put it this way, Hugo is now a lot bigger than Eric.

Having a dip in the local stream on a 30C day on 9th April 14 
"Ahh... that's better!" says Eric...

You can see the size difference.    Of course Eric is the older (11 years) alpha dog and sure lets Hugo (9 months) know it.

We got a 'doggie door' fitted a while back, and believe it or not, Hugo can get through it.  

Its like watching a contortionist in action -    Hugo usually sneaks through it around 8 am when his owner Sally, has left for work.  

I woke the other morning to a slight banging noise, figured it was Hugo coming in then it all went quiet.

I roused myself,  walked into the lounge to see something on the rug by the TV.   It was a couple of chewed up clothes pegs, as I had left the laundry basket, with dried washing in it, at the other end of the room (where the doggie door is).  The peg bag was on top.  Obviously a teething treat for Hugo.

Walking to the other end of the room, I could see the white plastic laundry basket on the sofa, where I stupidly had left it, but noticed stuff moved so that meant Hugo had been in it.  

I looked over to the doggie door and stopped dead; What the frigging hell was that?

The doggie door 8.30 am  -  April 7, 2014

For dear reader(s), it was a pair of my knickers, half way out the dog flap, and some dog spew (from Eric)  that was parked nearby...   Lovely!

I laughed so hard, Matt got up, wondering what all the noise was.  I grabbed the camera to show Hugo's handiwork to post here on the blog.  

Hugo was at work again later that day;  I had found under the house the cord to my dressing gown, (missing since March)  but couldn't see any other undies that Hugo might have grabbed from the laundry basket.  The bugger!   He is only a puppy and it's Eric the older dog (age 11) who gets hassled non stop by Hugo.  At least Eric leaves the laundry alone...



Let's talk about them for a bit.   

We had a scare in January this year, when Cyclone Dylan was upon us;  please see the news link below.

 I've never been in a cyclone before, so I did as instructed by husband Matt and Townsville Council; get ready for it.  

On Thursday 30 January I filled the spa bath with water, and any other vessel so we had with drinking water.   Matt and I removed ALL the items of furniture and the BBQ off the decking, and brought it all inside.   Our generator was filled with petrol; and the battery powered radio and candles were handy on the kitchen bench.

Now, please bear in mind that this was a Category 1 Cyclone;  The Council warning guide lists a Cat 1 as "severe rain, minor flooding, leaves/branches may be off trees, wind speeds may exceed 100 kph..." blah, blah - you get the drift.   It did not sound pleasant, but hey, this tough bitch has  been bungy jumping, so nothing scares me now! 

So when on Friday 31 Jan,  I woke up from a very quiet sleep, at 7.30am,  I was fully expecting on opening the curtains, to see branches laying in the garden, leaves everywhere and maybe the odd big tree laying in the main road at the front of the house.    But nothing -  I felt underwhelmed and slightly disappointed.    The sight before me confirmed: everything was normal.  

No trees down, not even any leaves blown off the palms.   

We got the BBQ from the lounge, took the outdoor sofas back where they lived, and wondered what to do with all the bottles of water I had lined up in the kitchen. (we used them to fill the kettle and water the outdoor plants.)  

The Townsville Magpie   (a sarcastic and funny blog about Townsville)

had a great take on the whole debacle, with a picture of a picnic table and chairs with one chair turned over with the heading "Cyclone Dylan - we shall rebuild!".

I will mention though that some of the islands down in the Whitsundays below us, did cop the wrath of Dylan  - they had damage but luckily, no loss of life or injuries.   

  Life moves on and the next scary thing we hear from the ABC TV weather lady Jenny is that a newly formed cyclone - named "Ita"  had appeared over the Solomon Islands,  wrecked havoc and was heading our way.   

It was a Cat 5 cyclone (the highest rating) and was tracking towards Cooktown, about 650 km to the north of Maggie island.  OK, not good.   Matt and I kept track of this via the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) on the Internet, and on Sat 12 April,  Ita was downgraded to a Cat 4.

See link below:

We were told on the BOM website on Sat 12 April, that it would be a Cat 1 when it reached us here and probably a 'rain depression' only.

It hit Cooktown hard, but no injuries or deaths fortunately.  Lots of roofs torn off and trees over the roads.    But then the really scary news - the BOM website told us it was headed our way - and suddenly the rain on Saturday afternoon was heavy.  Abnormally heavy.  

Now, ask yourselves,  us being Mr and Mrs Careful - did we move the BBQ and decking furniture indoors like we did for 'Dylan'?  

As if!   We weren't going to get fooled by this one!  More of the same, just like 'Dylan' - a non event. We could handle a bit of rain.   

 So when I went to bed on Saturday 12 April, with the rain was lashing down, I slept like a baby.

Waking up next morning to a very dark bedroom, I heard a clanging of chains.  

Checking the alarm clock, it was flashing 7.15am, but this flashing meant a power surge had re-set the clock to zero during the night.  The clanging noise continued.   

Matt was not in the bed.

'Hello', I thought, 'has Matt found those whips and chains we used to 'play' with years ago?', but sadly, that was not what was going on.

On opening the curtains, a weird site hit my retinas.   

There was Matt, wavering on the top step of our 1.5M steel ladder in the middle of the lawn, in his black Lycra boxer shorts, (and nothing else).

In howling winds, he was vainly trying to unhook the metal chains that held the shade cloth over the outdoor spa.   The rain was absolutely lashing it down,  bit of leaves and branches were flying through the air.  

Grabbing my leopard print satin dressing gown, and wrapping it around me in a frenzy, I rushed outside.   (I just hope this scary sight didn't traumatise the neighbours.)  I realised I had to somehow help Matt, before things got worse.

Matt had gotten the shade cloth down and was trying to wrap it over the spa's pool fence.  All 3 square metres of it, an impossible task when its dry and sunny, let alone in a rainstorm, when its soggy and heavy.

'Matt, Matt!  Leave it on the grass! Get inside!' I was yelling at him.   

Waving at me, that he'd heard my screams,  he folded up the ladder.  He joined me under the decking  pushing the now very wet outdoor sofa and chairs to the far end of our deck.   The dry corner, that now,  was not.

By now we were both soaked to the skin.   And wet satin is, I assure you, not nice to wear in a downpour.  Cold and clammy are the words that spring to mind.

The rain had been so hard when combined with gale force winds, it had soaked everything on our deck.  We removed the small items off the tables in case they got picked up and broke a window. Scurrying inside we watched our small garden turn into a lake, joined by the spa's overflow pipe.   

Holy f**k!  I would hate to see a Cat 4 or 5 if this was a lowly Cat 1!

We made some coffee and toast.  Just after breakfast a strange thing happened;  it all went quiet.   No rain, no wind.  Matt fired up the laptop and checked the BOM radar.  Yep -  Magnetic Island was in the 'eye' of the cyclone.

'C'mon!' said Matt 'we have to go out and see this!'   As we were getting ready, Matt's phone sent him a message from Sealink, the ferry operator, to say that ferries to Townsville were cancelled.  

Pulling on an old pair of shorts and a T shirt and sneakers, (no umbrella) I grabbed Eric and we ventured forth.  There was a roaring noise in the distance, which we realised was the ocean at the end of the street.  We decided to walk down to it. 

Half way there, along Apjohn Street, is a causeway that cuts across the road and is usually a trickle.  

Here it is a few weeks before:

Matt and doggies on causeway, Apjohn St. 25.3.14: a couple of centimetres deep?

and in the eye of the cyclone: Sunday 13.4.14  11am 

 That white pole with 'M 1'  is the 1 Metre (3 ft 3 ins) marker post. That's a high water mark I've never seen here before!   What a difference a cyclone makes.

The roar of the surf was louder now by the causeway -  as we watched a half of a tree sailed past, and quickly too.  

After a short walk we got to the north end of Horseshoe Bay Beach, to find a huge swell and surf pounding the beach. 

Horseshoe Bay beach 13.4.14  with 2m swell and surf.  Lots of trees washed up.

The (usually) shallow creek in the front and behind the eroded beach, plus raging seas.  13.4.14

Just to give you an idea of how weird this was to see our local beach this way, here is its normal look:

What a difference!  
Louise & Dogs, Horseshoe Bay beach March 2014

 On  Monday 14th April we awoke to clear blue skies and no winds at all.

 Ah, life in the tropics, Dylan one day, Ita the next!

What else has gone? 

Christmas came and went, we had a very quiet one.   

Same for NYE, we watched the fireworks at Nelly Bay and came home, drank a nip of Scotch each, and that was about it.  

Oh and Matt got me a bucket of 20 mangoes for Xmas; the romantic bastard!

Here I am tucking into one...

A very happy Louise with a brekky mango slice, Dec 2013 - taken on Matt's phone.

And before I forget (and I'd like to)  -   I blew up the vacuum cleaner.  Not on purpose, it was an accident, I swear...

The dead vacuum cleaner, RIP (rust in peace)...  March 2014

Let me explain.

When we moved into our house, it was fully furnished, with a vacuums.  We had our own furniture in storage, so we had two - we kept both, and when a cleaning frenzy came upon us, we would divide the house in two, and vac half of it each. 

Division of labour and all that old feminist stuff.    

Of course this particular Wednesday was rather hot, (31C).  Ceiling fans were whirring.  Matt was vaccing away in the bedrooms.   I usually wear an old cotton bandanna when cleaning.  And today? Yep,  I was too lazy to go and get it.

Dragging the vac behind me,  I went over to check the electric cord was not stuck under one of the chairs, when I think a drip or two of sweat fell off my uncovered brow and sank into a lid edge and into the motor:   Who knows?  

But what I do know is that after that drip a nasty whining motor dying kind of noise emanated from the beast, and then - nothing - only a slight smell of burning plastic filling the air.  

I rushed and pulled the plug out from wall.  

Matt had heard the noise of me yelling  'Oh bugger!'  

He had finished his labors, (bless!) he came to see what the problem was.  I tried to explain, but kept laughing.  Luckily I have an understanding husband.

Ah well,  our own one was held together by tape here and there, plus it was around 7 years old.
It was probably coming to its end anyways...  

Apart from always channelling Axel Rose and wearing a bloody bandanna,  I think we shall have to flip a coin to see who gets to use the one remaining vac.  

The other person then goes around with the dusters?    Matt and I may have flip more than coins to sort this dilemma out!  Watch this space.

Valentines Day.  

Another lovely surprise from my husband Matt.  He said those three words all women love to hear.

'Pack a bag!"

"We are going to stay in town overnight!'   

Doing as I was told,  the small cabin baggage suitcase was stuffed, while Matt took Eric to be looked after.

We jumped onto the SeaLink Ferry to Townsville.    I was pressing Matt as to where we were going; but no deal, he remained quiet.

Walking from the ferry to the bus stop into town, I had my suspicions.   

And they turned out to be correct when we got off the bus near the 'Sugar Shaker' hotel (The Holiday Inn) and booked into our room.  

Very nice it was too.   After unpacking, we grabbed a bite of sushi at the local place, and walked to the Perc Tucker Gallery to see the "Lego Exhibition".  

Yeah, highbrow I know, but Matt insisted.  (He had seen it earlier in the week when in town).   It was surprisingly good, and was one of the most viewed shows on at the gallery.

Dinner was also to be a surprise:  Matt had noticed that there was a new Brazilian restaurant in town called 'Chico Rio' and had booked us a table. Good thing he did as the place was packed.

Your author in our hotel room, ready for dinner, Friday 14.2.14

A different style of place!  How you ask?  Well, what this place does differently is that the (very handsome!) waiters come around with huge skewers of meat, fish, squid etc that has been charred over flames.  Customers are given sugar tongs to grab the slivers of whatever skewer was on offer, and add this to their plates.  Side dishes were also an interesting mix of Brazilian cuisine and Australian.   And all were lovely.

'Roasted pork, Madam?'  Chico Rio Restaurant, Townsville City, 14.2.14

'Roasted pineapple, madam?'  That's Matt on right holding the sugar tongs ready to grab a sliver of this absolutely heavenly Brazilian dessert! Great food, great service - worth a visit...

After dinner we walked to the Casino, had a very watery cocktail and lost $20 on the roulette.  Time to go to the hotel and crash out.


Now before I forget, I shall have to insert a few pics of my good self on my monthly style visits to my hairdresser (Mondo Bassi, Flinders St.)   If I can't show my style prowess in my own blog, where can I?

4th April 2014  - on my way into town;  

Many thanks to my good chum Kelly B. for that magnificent necklace. 

A statement necklace needs a plain dress under it, as 'its all about the neckline'.   I got a lot of compliments on it while in town.

6 Feb 2014 - going to town!


Oh yes, I have to mention our visit to Sydney and the GLBT Mardi Gras.

We arrived in Sydney on Weds 26 Feb.  staying with our good chum Geoff for a few days - those days mainly spent shopping and going to the theatre.  

We saw "Proof" at the Ensemble Theatre, and had dinner there before the performance, with our other chums Natalie and Jason, and a wonderful night was had by all.

28.2.14 Ensemble Theatre, L-R Matt, Natalie, Jason, Geoff

On the big day of the Mardi Gras parade, March 1, the skies looked leaden.  Would the heavens open and rain on the parade?  I hoped not.  

Our chums Kelly and her merry band were marching in the parade, with a float called 'Putin on the Ritz' which took the piss out of  the recent Sochi Winter Olympics and the discrimination on gay people that Mr Putin endorses.

We opted not to go to see the parade.  We attended the after party only - and what a party it was!

So very, very good.  We met up with all our friends and had a great time.   

Thanks to all who came with us.

On the dance floor, Hordern Pavilion,  1/3/14; Matt and Louise

Louise and Vince, a bit blurry! MG Party. 1.3.14

Kelly dressed as Russian ice skater, Matt and Louise -  MG Party 1.3.14

We left at 5.30 am for our hotel in Bondi Junction, so it must have been good.

Then it was all over,  like a lovely dream and it was back to the island.

On Monday we picked up our Eric, who had been staying with Maria the dog lady, (thanks Maria!).  

On another note, I recently received a music CD in the mail by "Arlen", my chum Angie's husband in LA.   Its very good.  Entitled 'Shadow in the Dark' , recorded in the Sea Star studios in Santa Barbara in 2013.    Arlen wrote all the music and lyrics.   Track 10 is my fave - its a love song to Angie, called 'Everyday Valentine'.   

How many women can say their husband wrote and recorded a song for them?  
Only Christy Brinkley with 'Uptown Girl' by her husband Billy Joel comes to mind...

Changing gears now...

On March 20th, Matt's Uncle Paul came up to the island, and his son Isaac (5) decided a spot of fishing might be in order.  So on Sat 22nd we all trooped over to the Picnic Bay Jetty and got the rods out.

As usual I caught nothing!  Paul caught a tiny fish, but  it was too small to keep.

But it was all good fun and that's the main thing...

22 March 2014 - Picnic Bay Jetty; Matt & Eric, Paul (standing) and Zac.

We had a quick visit from Erron and Kylie plus their children, Jack and Matilda, who were visiting from Victoria.

And of course, there is one amazing thing to do here on a Wednesday night, and that's go to the Cane Toad Races at the Arcardia Hotel.  If you haven't witnessed this unusual sight, please see the link below.   So we took them along and they loved it.

I know the pizzas we ate before the races were lovely - and before you ask, no, they don't make cane toad pizzas on the island.   See link below to see the cane toads in action!

Before I go I must just share this with you.

On Good Friday 18 April, Matt was out playing golf and I could hear Hugo barking at something; a voice sang out 'Hello!' and it was our neighbour Nelsea who came with a gift bag of chocolate Easter eggs.  She gave me a hug and said 'Happy Easter' but all I could manage in reply was the woeful 'Sorry, I've not got any eggs for you - I'm an atheist!'   

Luckily for me, it turned out she is a bit of a chili lover and I gave her some of our Scotch Bonnet ones that, I warned her, are "brain damage", as an 'Easter gift  - It's no substitute for chocolate I know, but the best I could manage at the time.

Well dear reader(s) its time to reach for the tissues, as that is about it with my news, views and gossip.

I'll try and kick myself up my own backside,  to get another blog written for your enjoyment.

Adios amigos.

Louise xxx

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Election news, Sci Fi Sydney blues, Ballet shoes, and all in between...


Greeting movers and groovers!

Louise back on the blogosphere once again to regale you with tales of my adventures...

Its starting to warm up a bit here now, 30C today (86F for those not in metric) which in any one's language means one thing; HOT!  No rain since January/Feb and the whole island looks very, very parched, brown and as they say here in Austraia;  'It's drier than a Pommie's towel!'

Now, being a Pom myself, the first time I heard that very Aussie expression I laughed like a drain in a rain storm.  We do wash occasionally!

OK, enough of the weather report already.  I'm sure my reader(s) are dying to know what I have been up to lately?  


We took Matt's Nana Joy out for lunch a few weeks ago.  So, of course, I got dressed up.

My 'Sydney' clothes are lying idle at the back of the sliding wardrobe saying, 'wear me!'   On this island, having an ironed T Shirt is considered getting dressed up, believe me.

Here I am dressed for the occasion - and as my role model Joyce says on the "Advance Style" blog 'You have to be the star of your own drama of life!'  

We are off to lunch: August 2013

After our adventures in Cairns, (last blog) we laid low for a bit, after the excitement we had there.

Here in Australia, a general election was looming and as an avid Labor Party supporter I decided to do something meaningful.

 The wheels of fate and coincidence surely move strangely: as it happened my good pal BB in Blackpool, England, he once knew the Labor candidate for Herbert (my electorate here in Queensland), Cathy O'Toole.  So I decided to act -   I called Cathy's campaign office and offered my services.

On Sunday 11 August, the local Labor Branch secretary,  Linda came around to meet me.  After a cuppa and a chat I told her I was willing to help out in any way I could.  

On Thursday 15th I attended a Labor branch party meeting in Nelly Bay. There was a special offer of only $5.00 to join the party - a bargain - so I signed up.    

The date of the election had recently been announced for 7th September so on 30th August there I was putting fliers for Labor Candidate Cathy O'Toole into our local mail boxes in Horseshoe Bay.

Fully expecting to have dogs set on me, or just being told to "Eff off" I was pleasantly surprised when none of the above happened.  

'Just leaving you some election material'  I sang out to anyone who thought I was delivering junk mail.  Waves and smiles all round.  I met some nice dogs too.    More "letter boxing" was done with Linda in Picnic Bay, Nelly Bay and the surrounds.

For me there was a kind of pay off -  Linda has an enormous lemon tree in her garden and was kind enough to give me a bag full.  (I drink litres of lemon tea!)  Many thanks.

Now fired up with election fever, I agreed for a shift outside the one of the local polling stations here on Magnetic Island, at the Arcadia Bowling Club.

'Wear red' Linda insisted.

OK - I can do that -    How about a hat to go with it?  Gotta get dressed up for this...

Polka dot dress, Polka dot undies, a great look!  

No, not going to the races - your author outside the polling station, Sat 7th Sept. 2013

 I have to tell you that it was actually good fun.  I did a 2 hr stint and met some very interesting people.  From all sides of the political spectrum.   That's the great thing about living in this country, we can have different views on whatever you care to mention, but everyone gets on.  

Linda and I begged, cajoled, pleaded and just about promised sexual favours to the locals coming in to vote.  OK, I'm lying about the begging!   You catch my drift.  And it worked too.

Later that night around 10.30pm Linda phoned me at home to tell me the good news; our polling station had been won by Cathy.  Won the battle, but not the war.

Sadly, I have to relate the news that the Liberal sitting MP for our seat of Herbert,  Ewen Jones, (known as "Lazy Bones" I'm reliably told) got back in.    

Now many of my friends have asked me, 'Louise, why don't you go into politics?'   

I'll answer that question the same way George Clooney did a few years ago when asked it.  'Too many wild parties, with too many incriminating photos ...'   

Yep, George and myself do like to have a good time.  


Sorry I am digressing!  Oh yes, our Sydney visit.   Another one.  We got cheapo airfares again with Jetstar and our chum Kelly was having a Sci Fi themed birthday party.  Lovely.

We arrived on Monday 9th September and after a night with our pal Geoff we drove off to country New South Wales  to visit my good friend Carmen.  

Carmen lives on a huge property near Young, NSW and is currently helping out in the local shearing sheds as a roustabout.   A lamb roast dinner was in the oven when we arrived.  Lovely!  

We spent the next few days helping around the property (Matt on the ride on mower), visiting the charity shops in Young, (found some great shoes in my size) and just having a great time.  We even got to go to the shed that Carmen was working in! 

Matt with the shearers comb; we missed seeing them working sheep by about 20 minutes. 

And of course, there was lamb on the menu... with some of my famous home made Sangria to go with it...
Carmen and Louise feeling no pain after the 3rd glass!

But sadly, good things come to an end, and we headed back to Sydney to partake of our friend Geoff's hospitality at his place in Freshwater.  We arrived on the Friday 13th (someone call an exorcist!) and next day the three of us headed to the local party/costume shop to find something to wear to Kelly's Birthday Bash with a Sci Fi theme.  (Geoff was coming along too).

 Arriving at the shop in William Street, Brookvale, we find a big red sign on the door stating 'Sorry -we are closed until further notice'.  Lovely - not!  

We then raced into the Warringah Mall across the road to the party shop there; no luck either, as the Batman costume (to buy only, no hiring at this shop!) was $65 and didn't look that flash.

Luckily after quick visit to the library in the Mall,  we were directed to another party shop in Dee Why (yep, that's the name of the suburb!) and same problem -  some half decent costumes but even with hiring they were way too expensive.  A quick call to Kelly ensued.   

'Can we just forgo the costumes, and spend the money on booze?' Matt pleaded.

'Sure, no problem!' came Kelly's reply.  So that's what we did.

On arriving we found that 90% of people were in costume; but Kelly found a white lab coat for Geoff - he was now Walter Bishop from 'Fringe'! (Fab show, check it out...)

Which was great but Geoff has never seen the show, and just took it on good faith that he looked the part.   (see photo below...)

Geoff as Walter from Fringe (in lab coat Kelly had lying around!)
Kelly in Dalek inspired dress.

Your author feeling no pain after that third glass!  

Look at the trouble Kelly & housemates went to for the party: 
There was foil all over the arch, there was black lights in the rear bedroom, a nearly full size cardboard Tardis on the wall... the list goes on.  It was mammoth!  That plate on kitchen bench has tiny cupcakes with an edible Tardis on each one - now that's dedication!  14.9.13

The next day, Sunday, we went to see our chums Kate and Jonathan, and their new baby Riley; what a cutie...

Geoff & Riley, 15.9.13

We managed to squash in seeing nearly everyone in Sydney.  But two people were missing.

 I was keen to see my old workmate Jason, and his lovely new partner, Natalie.  They were both free the last night we were in Sydney and we had a very, very good dinner at the new Thai restaurant in Collaroy.  The food was great!

Matt, Nat, Jason, Geoff: Thai Restaurant; 15.9.13

We headed back to Magnetic Island the next day.  The 2 hour flight just went in no time and next thing we were touching down at Townsville.

It was nice to be home and we picked up Eric from his doggie hotel and finally sat down with a cuppa.  Bliss!


Our next dose of culture was the Russian Ballet who were touring Australia.

We booked the tickets for this back in February and kinda forgot about it.  

Luckily as Mae West said 'keep a diary and one day it will keep you', I had it noted down,  Friday 4 October.

We decided to stay in Townsville the night of the ballet; there was a sound reason for this - most of the other events we have seen at the Townsville Civic Theatre have had us leaving before the end, and rushing for the ferry.  

Luckily we managed to find a cheap overnight deal at the Ibis Hotel in Palmer St. and saw the whole performance.  

I have to confess here I have NEVER seen a proper ballet production or ballet company before.  I have seen lots of modern dance troupes come to Australia - I even saw in 1995 at the Capitol Theatre in Sydney, the White Oak Dance Project with Mikhail Baryshnikov as lead dancer which was amazing, but not a proper classical ballet company.

I won't bore you with the ins and outs of what we saw, but trust me, the Russian Ballet performance, it was fan bloody tastic!

The troupe did a few classic pieces and a few modern ones too; and staged the most jaw dropping modern dance to Ravel's 'Bolero'.  

After the performance,  the troupe was in the foyer signing autographs and of course I had to get a picture taken with one of the lead dancers.

4th October 2013 Civic Theatre, Louise and cute Ruskie ballet dancer.  I asked if he spoke English and he said yes, but I think he was telling fibs... Not that I cared!

But wait, there's more!

Next day at breakfast at the Ibis Hotel, sitting nearby was the whole troupe: what made my jaw drop was seeing one of the lead dancers puffing away on a ciggie;  so not a good look.   

The lead male dancer from the Bolero sequence was also there,  as I recognised him by the tattoo on his chest.  

Now you can get your mind out of the gutter - this tattoo was spotted while he was dancing...  

I went up to him and found to my delight that he spoke very good English.   

I told him how great his performance had been the night before.  He stood up and shook hands with Matt and myself and bowed!  Wow, these Ruskies are very, very polite.  They are back next year and I think we shall go again.


On a look around the house a few weeks ago we decided that the bathrooms need a feature wall or two; why not, we thought -  every room (almost) has a feature wall.

So on Sunday 22/9/13 we got stuck into it.   I wish I had taken pics of the progress as we went along, but fired with a few cups of strong black java, I forgot to grab the camera.  Bugger.  

But here is the before pic:  

(although I did have a few pics on the wall - this pic below was when we just moved in ).

Before -  a bit boring looking I think... July 2011

And after: with the Aqua Blue paint job; and picture frame over the mirror; 19 Oct 2013

If you can't have a bit of an art gallery in your bathroom, where can you?  

This pic is just to prove there is a shower in here too.

Photos from my college days. 

If you have a large picture frame with no glass laying around and you want to put it to good use, feel free to copy my idea of hanging it over a large mirror for a bit of extra interest.

I found a box of photo frames (above) at a garage sale on the Island, they were just plain brown timber so I spray painted them black.  I bought them mainly as they had the glass in all of them (8 in all) but I broke one of the glass panes, trying to extract if from the frame when I wanted to paint it.  (Super lucky to not open a vein!  But I always say, only melted chocolate and red wine would probably come spurting out...)  Plus all had eyelets and wires attached for hanging. 

I then had to mat the B&W photos I had lying around from my days at Sydney College of the Arts back in the 80s.  I 'googled'  "how do I mat photos for a frame", and deep joy, I found on YouTube a tutorial on how to use fabric to do the job with.  

Rushing to my patchwork quilting bag (yes, dear reader, I have many talents - some of which I cannot talk about...) I found a couple of metres of plain calico fabric which did the job nicely.  

A few hours of fiddling about with glue, fabric, card and ruler, and my work was done.   

I have to admit here though that Matt had to help me hang the buggers up on the wall.  When grouping frames like this, they have to be straight and equi-distant to each other, and we used paper templates before deciding on the final placements.  Not easy when there is no ceiling fan in that bathroom, and Matt was sweating like a flasher in raincoat shop.   But we got there in the end, and I am well pleased with the end result.  

We used the other 2 frames to put some DJ flyers into and stuck them in Matt's bathroom.  


I will end here dear readers with the last couple of photos and the short story that goes with them:

We had a possum in our loft!  And for those of you who do not know, these creatures are protected under Australian law, so we couldn't kill the cute thing.  

Just so you know, they are very noisy and  sleep in the day and rush around at night, eating and breeding.

Usually as we were nodding off to sleep, we would hear the damn thing scurrying over our heads; annoying in the extreme.

So  - all Matt had to do was get onto the roof, find the hole it was sneaking through to get into the loft, and block it up with wire.  Sound simple?  Well ... not quite!

Number one, we had to work at night to make sure it wasn't trapped asleep in the loft; 

Number 2: crawling around on the roof with a torch is not for the faint hearted - that's why Matt did it.   Me, I get vertigo if I'm wearing thick socks...

Scoping out where the possum was coming in, during daylight, was easy.  Using one of my makeup mirrors to see under the roof awning and between the gutter, Matt spotted it.   

Around 10.30 pm that night, we made our move.  My move being to hold the ladder while Matt climbed onto the roof.   As he made his way to the corner where the hole was, I heard him yell down;

 'Louie, the possum's on the roof and it won't move!'

'Just make a noise, Matt, and it'll run off.'

Matt duly makes a yelling sound and nothing happens.

'Its not moving Lou - any ideas?'

At this point I left the ladder and ran around to the side of the house.   There was Matt shining the torch on our little furry friend.   Mr Possum, realising that he had 2 of us to deal with, jumped and somehow managed to land in the palm tree next to the house.  (The gap was about 1.5m).  

'Bloody Hell!' said Matt 'I didn't know they could leap that far!'

'Me neither' I replied 'maybe he's been taking lessons from those Ruskie ballet dancers!'

Matt was not amused.

Here's the pics.

23.10.13  Matt on the roof, blocking up hole where Mr Possum was getting in.

Mr Possum after his leap into the tree.

Happy to report, no noise since, so we hope he has found another place to sleep...

And on that jolly note I shall leave you.  Please leave comments if you like. 

- Until next time...

Adios Amigos. 

Louise xxx

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Dentist visits, garage sales, and how we became swingers in Cairns...


Louise here at the helm once again, bringing you the goss and glamour that is Magnetic Island, Far North Queensland, Australia.

A lot to tell relate, so I'll get stuck in.

I'll start with a pic of your fashionista author before she headed into town to visit the hairdresser...  I am a huge fan of the site below:

and as one of the ladies featured, Joyce, who is 75 and looks amazing, said to Ari Cohen, the blogs director,  'You are the star of your own drama of life... so wear what brings that out!'   So taking her advice, I gave one of the hats by Maya Neuman that I have,  an outing.  I do love hats and berets.

13 June 2013,  on way to town. (red handbag not shown.)


For those of you with a delicate nature, look away now.  I am about to relate my story of how I had recently had one of my teeth removed.  

A few weeks ago my back molar that had been throbbing on and off, decided to annoy me even further.  Whilst munching on something innocuous as multi grain bread, my tooth hit a grain and wham! a corner of said tooth snapped off, being swallowed by myself.  A quick feel with the tongue and a look in the mirror, told me the full horror.   I would have to use the dentist in Townsville, not my usual one,  Dan Pechar,  in Manly (Sydney).

A few days later, I saw Vik at the Smile Dentists in Townsville who told me the best option was to remove said tooth, as it was looking a bit delicate, and fix me up with a metal plate with 2 false teeth for the other side of my mouth where another 2 molars were missing.   Not the happy outcome I wanted but, if it had to go, well,  I'll try and be brave.  He gave me a prescription for Panadeine Forte. Which worried me, as I assumed it meant massive pain would be following?

Another appointment was made for the following week.   The day came and I asked Matt to come with me in case I was a bit shaky after the extraction and we both ventured into town.

Sitting in the waiting room, and feeling a bit nervous, Dentist Vik escorted me from reception.

I know now how the inmates in Gitmo feel when told they are to be 'interviewed'.     I lay back in the dentist's chair and I confessed all my sins immediately including many I'd only read about in the 'Readers True Stories' in Playboy Magazine, but this did nothing to placate my tormentor.   Then I saw the needle and really started to feel a bit panicky.

'Did you take any of the Panadeine Forte?' Vik enquired, while tapping the needle.
Transfixed by this instrument of pain, I slowly said 'No... ' then realised a respite - 'But I have them with me!'
'Well Louise,  I think you should take 2 before we start, just in case'.
Grabbing my handbag I shook two out of the packet, swallowed them, and lay back.
'We'll just give them a few minutes to get working, then I'll start...' he said.

Was there anything I could confess to that would make him cease?  The whereabouts of Lord Lucan?  The location of an alien spaceship in Area 52?  My real age?

My mind reeled, as I heard the dreaded words 'Open wide Louise'.
To be fair, Vik was very gentle with that needle and soon I was feeling no pain.  The Panadeine Forte had kicked in, but my hands were shaking like an alcoholic in a wine bar.

As Vik tugged with the pliers,  my gammy tooth shattered and shards flew inside my mouth, with your author poking her tongue out so the nurse could suck them off with that little vacuum pump thingy.  After what seemed an age of Vik tugging and turning, even standing behind me to get a better grip, the damn thing creaked and then came out.    Some blood flow followed.  As directed, I bit hard down on a gauze bandage now filling the hole where my tooth was.  (I have an idea to make these gauze 'plugs'  flavoured if anyone is interested in manufacturing?  Give me a call...)   After a few minutes the torture was over and I met Matt in the reception, with shaky knees.

Happily all has healed up and I have to go back into see the dentist to get my 'falsies' made up.  Not a jolly thought.  I wanted to keep all my teeth until I was wearing a wooden overcoat, but hell, sometimes you have to go with the flow. ( Or should that be floss?)

Here is the condemned woman before the dentist visit: 2 July 2013


On Saturday 6 July we had a first for our neighbourhood;  a street garage sale!  And it was bloody good too.  (see pics below).

Matt on our small stall, 6 July 2013

We arrived at 7.30am to find that one side of the street was already taken, customers were everywhere, so we parked ourselves and the Charade, under a tree opposite and started selling.  We had 3 car loads of stuff and sold most of it in the first hour!   Happy days...

Trevor, our neighbour organised the whole thing.  Here he is behind his stall, which went gangbusters!

Trevor, local sparky, behind his stall 6.7.13

L-R Gwen, Lisa and Petah (wife of Trevor);  I bought that green caftan at right... 6.7.13

Now Bill, another neighbour had a set of garden furniture for sale.   The coffee table that was part of the set, sported a sticker saying $35.00.  Of course, lots of people looked at it and thought it must be the price of the coffee table.   Hold that thought dear reader!

I said to Matt about 10am, 'I'm going to check out what other people are selling...' and wandered off. I had a quick chat to Bill, and said 'Wow Bill, $35 for that coffee table seems a bit steep...'  

Giving me a look that said 'this woman's a fool' (and rightly so) he told me 'Louise, that's for the whole set.  Plus I'll give you that can of black spray paint to touch up the rusty bits...'

Realising that no one else realised it was going well cheap, I rushed over to Matt, and explained.
Matt (for I have taught him well where bargains are considered!), went over to check it out.  I could only see the body language with Matt pointing and Bill chatting.  Next thing Matt has his hands in his bum bag and I can see dosh being handed over.

Matt returns, beaming.  'I've just bought that!'
'Lovely' I said, 'but how do we get it home?'
'All taken care of...'  he smiled,  'Jim is lending me the ute for 5 mins later and I'll put it in that...'
All good!  (Jim is another neighbour who kindly lent us his truck for the 30 second journey to our house around the corner).

Now here below is the said furniture in situ at the garage sale.  It needed a fair bit of work done to it.  Its under that blue tent awning, and consisted of 2 chairs, 1 x 2 seater sofa, and 1 glass topped coffee table.

View of Bill's stuff, street garage sale 6.7.13

A few days later, we got stuck into making the new garden setting look ship shape.  

Matt got more black spray paint and I began cleaning the cushions, (which had no zips to remove the covers, and were joined back and seat).   I had to do the old trick of filling our indoor spa bath with soapy water, putting a back and seat cushion in, and then doing the 'grape tread' on them until they looked clean.  Hours of fun!

Matt sanding back the frame of the sofa  09/07/13

And here is it all finished; it took about 2 weeks as the cushions had to be washed in the spa bath and then dried on the pool fence.  The glass topped coffee table as a cloth on it, as those damn glass tops show every mark.

All done!  20.7.13


In July it was Matt's 40th birthday.  We had originally planned to go to Ibiza, Spain, but finances being a bit tight, we opted instead for 4 nights in Cairns, Queensland.   Finding cheap flights and accommodation was our first step, and having secured that, we booked a few more excursions.

Arriving at 5.30pm on Thursday 11 July, we picked up our transfer bus into Cairns city.  We had booked the Hides Hotel, bang in the middle of town at Palmer Street.  Thus, no need for a hire car and it was a short walk to the local delights.

We didn't do much on the day or arrival, except have some dinner and then go to sleep.  

Next day (Friday) we had a walk around town and got the lay of the land.  And a very nice lay it was too...  Cairns is north from Magnetic Island by about 800 km which means it is a bit warmer.  They have an international airport too, (unlike Townsville) and the place was crowded with Chinese tourists. 

Before we arrived in Cairns, we got 2 tickets to see Sam Powers, Master Magician at the Hilton Hotel for Friday 12 July.   We got dressed up and enjoyed some very nice tapas at the Vibe Bar where my chatting up the waiter got Matt a free shot of Absinthe -  amazing how flirty I can be after a cocktail.  

We headed for the Hilton as the show began at 7pm and after another drink at the bar, we headed downstairs to the 'arena area'.   Oh no - we were told by the very nice girl at the desk that 'technical difficulties' had occurred and that the show that night was cancelled.  Could we come back tomorrow?  We just looked at each other and shrugged and said 'Sure'.  We then headed off to the frozen yogurt parlour nearby before having an early night.

But of course the hotel opposite hours had a cover band on.  Loud?  Yes!  Worse - patrons were singing along with them.  For hours!   Not good.  Luckily I brought 2 sets of ear plugs with me and we managed to get a bit of sleep.

Next day (Sat) we got up early for our included 'continental breakfast' in the hotel kitchen/balcony area and then headed to the railway station for the Kuranda Railway trip.   Matt had done this trip ages ago, but it was new to me, so we gave it a whirl.  see link below.

Louise  - Kuranda Scenic Railway 13.7.13

We did the train up to Kuranda and the cable car/skyrail back down.  It was raining as we arrived crawling up a very steep hill as the train creaked and strained, but the rain cleared up and we had a couple of hours to walk around.   A real hippy dippy town and like Cairns,  full of ugg boots, opal shops and all signs in 4 languages.  But worth a look.   

We jumped on the skyrail (cable car) back down the hill later in the day and a bus back took us back to town.   

Deciding the best place to have dinner was the Hilton Hotel, (Matt's birthday and all...)  plus the magic show was just downstairs. 

All good. 

When we rocked up to the ticket office to enter the 'arena' at the Hilton, the same girl was on duty as the night before.

"Hello Mr and Mrs Byron" she purred, "to apologise for last nights "no show", we have given you front row seats".  Lovely!   

Clutching the now better seats we entered the area:  then we stopped dead in our tracks and just stared.  Before us were about 6 rows of about 12 chairs with a walkway through the middle, no stage to speak of, but 2 giant speakers and a smoke machine were doing their thing.  

Matt found our front row seats, and as we sat down he hissed to me 'Is this it?'  

Pulling a face I said, 'Spose so...' and we looked around as the medium size room began to fill up.  

'I feel sorry for the magician' said Matt, 'that's why it was cancelled last night - probably not enough people here to make it worth his while...'

see link below

So we settled down to see what was on offer;  Suddenly the spooky music blared and a very nice looking Sam,  rocked out and began to do his thing.  Beginning with spearing his lovely assistant on a spike, and spinning her around.  She didn't complain, which I found a bit weird.  Ah well, any job in show business is a good one.

Then it happened.   

Sam walked over to me and said, 'Hello, what's your name?'  

'Louise' I replied and he held out his hand, 'come on stage with me'...   

Of course I went.  Me -  the bloody show off from way back, how could I refuse?  Now I wish I could say Matt took pics of my big moment, but no photos were allowed.  Damn!

Matt just laughed as I got involved in a card trick with Sam, (quite good) and I received a poster of Sam for my efforts.

During the second half of the show,  Matt was also called on stage to check the trunk that Sam was about to go into - then disappear - was a real one with no trapdoors.  (Matt got a DVD for his efforts).  The was the best trick I've seen close up and made up for the half filled venue, and previous nights cancellation.    On the way out I got Sam to sign the poster and Matt took a pic.

Sam Powers Magic Show 13.7.13 Hilton Hotel, Cairns.

As it was Matt's birthday, and we'd both been on stage, another cocktail was called for!
Hilton Hotel 13.7.13


Next day, Sunday we decided to go to the Bungy jumping site in Cairns and not do the bungy as we had done that in NZ, but do the Minjin swing instead;  So as I said at the beginning - we've become swingers...

Scary - yes, very!  But such a rush!  And let scary than the bungy jump, which was taking place to our right as we swung past.  One guy, Sam from Sheffield, UK did the jump in a hired Superman costume (available at the site).

and more about it here 

Matt at bungy jump Cairns 14.7.13

Come the Monday we left Cairns and back to the island.  Boo!  I really liked Cairns and Matt said he would live there if Sydney was nearby.  Me too, dear husband, me too!


To end on, it was a glorious day while riding on the Maggie Island ferry into town on Friday 2nd August last week.

I was in town to get my hair done at Mondobassi Hair, Flinders St, Townsville City,  (who are FAB!)  when the vessel came to a sudden halt.  The passengers all looked at each other with the "oh no, they've lost an engine again" (which does happen, they conk out regularly), only to hear the voice of the captain say 'Sorry for the slight delay, ladies and gentlemen, but I've stopped to let two huge turtles swim across the bow.  We'll get going soon.'  And with that we roared off across Cleveland Bay.  Only on Magnetic Island, I thought to myself.

So dear readers, that brings your tormented, cushion treading, cocktail swigging and swinging author to a close.

Please leave comments/ suggestions/ questions!   All welcome.  Just don't ask my age; only 2 people know that - myself and my plastic surgeon.