Friday, October 16, 2009

Bond girl or Teletubby?

Apologies for the radio silence, we have been away sailing in the Whitsundays, a chain of islands perched in the centre of the Great Barrier Reef. This is the third year we have taken a boat up there at this time of year and despite teenage moans of “No friends, no phone, just my family” there is something very bonding about being all together as a family. We all relax into it very quickly, existing in a very small living space, with minimal outside contact for a week. Mobile phone reception is almost non existent and in the absence of the usual electronic distractions everyone is forced to revert to reading, chatting and listening to Harry Potter on the CD player.

The scenery in the Whitsundays is absolutely stunning, wooded islands dropping straight into turquoise seas, interspersed by expanses of glittering white sand appearing and vanishing with the tides. As you would expect the snorkelling is breathtaking with turtles grazing on the sea grass beneath you and kaleidoscopes of brightly coloured fish and coral. Before I get too carried away with the lyrical descriptions and your mind despairingly flickers over images of us all starring in an Australian Tourism Board advert akin to the “Where the Bloody Hell are you?” series but probably entitled “Who the Bloody Hell are you?”, I should drag things back to reality. The one downside of the Whitsundays is that there is a very slim chance at this time of year of being stung by one of a number of unpleasant types of potentially deadly jellyfish. My particular favourite is the irukandji jellyfish which is miniscule, almost invisible and can sting people without them noticing. Apparently one of the first symptoms is an overwhelming feeling of dread and foreboding which if you go on to read the next few symptoms strikes me as a completely justifiable emotion. In a bid to avoid any encounters of the jelly sort you are advised to wear stinger suits – which are all in one lycra type outfits. There is of course the potential to look quite glamorous and Bond Girlish in these suits – as indeed the Drama Queens do, but there is also the potential to look like a Teletubby let loose on an outing, particularly when the hood is up and the mitten and feet attachements are all utilized. You can guess which category, Bond Girl or Teletubby I fit into, if fit is a word that can be used in connection with the thing. Suffice to say holiday snaps that include me in my all in one will not be circulating or appearing as our Christmas card this year.

In an unprecedented fit of organization I arranged to get our downstairs floors revarnished whilst we were away, which entailed moving all the furniture from our kitchen/family room into convenient storage locations such as the laundry and bathroom. Unfortunately my planning was slightly awry and the guys had to return to do a final coat on the hall during our first day back – as the varnish took 12 hours to dry this led to an interesting day and evening of everyone having to take a flying leap for the stair banisters and then to clamber like monkeys over it, with varying degrees of agility in order to get to a bathroom. During a pause in the varnishing, I came out to find the two chaps who were doing the floors playing a quick game of badminton at the front of the house, the incongruity of which made me laugh.

We are going out to dinner tonight to celebrate Simon’s midweek birthday. He did slightly better on the present front this year than last year where owing to a slight miscalculation on shopping days left until birthday, he got a packet of dried mango as an initial present. This year amongst other things from his nearest and dearest he got some electronic candles which I am envisaging being fantastic for the outdoor Aussie life. They are rechargeable and glow like little night lights and the DQs and I think they are charming – he seems quite keen but has been heard muttering that ‘they don’t exactly flicker, do they’ which is undeniably true but is also the point!

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