Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hairy Spiders, Hairy Maclary - I can feel a theme coming on

Happy Australia Day! Unfortunately far from breaking out the beer round the barbie I have been marching around Sydney today attractively clad in bright yellow sou’wester, a relic of my New York days when I expected rain, snow, sleet and hail on a pretty regular basis. Although the weather over the last couple of days can be officially classified as filthy, I can’t complete the outfit with my leopard skin wellies as they had been stored in the pool box over the theoretically dry summer and as a result are now soaking wet. I have hung them upside down by the back door partly to dry out and partly because having spotted a hand sized huntsman spider crawling into Husband’s docksiders last week, I am incredibly loathe to stick my hands, or indeed my toes, into any potential spider hidey hole. I am not usually particularly squeamish about spiders but I tend to get a bit twitchy tackling those that a) have legs that are visibly hairier than my own and b) that require a sizeable container for capture.

Early on in our marriage in a show of bravado I attempted to capture a huntsman marching with evil intent down the sloping ceiling above our bed, and just for reference when I describe huntsmen spiders as hand-sized I am not in one of my exaggeration prone moments though I should also add in the interests of accuracy that I do have quite small hands. Husband had refused to man up to the situation and in a ‘well, this just shows women are best’ type gesture, I tackled the thing using a jug. It was somewhat unfortunate that in my triumph I forgot that jugs have spouts and with a Machiavellian cunning the spider shot out the spout and dropped straight on top of the man who hates spiders with a passion, from memory it was hard to tell who exited the bed fastest but there were certainly a fair number of legs, all hairy, flashing around in panic.

Hurrah - the sun has just come out - maybe there's hope for all those barbeques yet. The back garden has taken on jungle like tendencies as a result of all the rain and humidity, and I have to report that my hair seems to have gone for a similar growth spurt. Given I had it all cut off three weeks ago it's a little disconcerting to find I am back in the running for best 'Hairy Maclary from Donaldsons Dairy' look alike - though I suppose it's slightly preferable to a resemblance to that other great canine creation of Lynley Dodds, 'Schnitzel von Krumm with a very low tum'.

Monday, January 16, 2012

'Top Gear' it isn't - but top holidays at Hyams Beach

Happy Belated New Year! I’m beginning to think I might have got too much into the holiday spirit, sand and slackness seems to be pervading the house as well as this blog, as evidenced by the slow progress on all domestic fronts. The pile of unsorted clean washing is now so large even the dog is looking nervous as he edges his way past. The dog, by the way, celebrated New Year by moving from being a dog still absent-mindedly hopping around on three legs to one with only two fully functioning limbs. Husband asked hopefully what would happen when dog got down to one leg, but fortunately for Pluto’s prospects of canine old age, he’s back to a tentative four.

We’ve just had a relaxing week at a beach three hours down the coast from Sydney. Hyams Beach in Jervis Bay is as close to paradise as you are going to get. White sands, water that is gin clear, and that in fact sparkles and glints in the tradition of the very best gin and tonic. It's a rare day you don't spot dophins carving effortless arcs through the waves just off shore at least once. The bird life is raucous and plentiful from flocks of galahs with their raspberry and cream coloring, to multicoloured parakeets, rosellas and kookaburras sitting on the verandah rails hoping to launch a lightning raid on any dropped bits of food. The odd sighting of a fish eagle soaring along the coastline added gravitas to the whole thing.

One of the nicest things about Hyams Beach, the town we rent a house in, is that it is surrounded by Jervis Bay National Park which is fantastic as it's remained a discrete hamlet rather than spreading into a coastal strip. The main national park in the area, Booderee National Park is a short drive with some amazing walks down to a variety of seascapes from ocean beaches filled with surfers and boogie boarders to deserted Robinson Crusoe type stretches with a somersaulting seal the only swimmer at one.

Husband and children went deep sea fishing, and returned with so much fish that over the last 24 hour period we’ve had battered fish and chips (shark), fish steaks (Kingfish) and Roll mops (Herring). The Drama Queens were triumphant they weren’t seasick, apparently most of the rest of the party were either popping pills or hanging over the side – privately thought I was glad I didn’t go as I am sure I would have been one of the unfortunates to spend an expensive couple of hours thinking I was about to die.

One of my personal highlights of Hyams is the one local cafe and store, currently advertised as “Under Old Management”, and a fantastic source of coffee and still warm muffins in the morning, lazy lunches sitting on the verandah watching the life of the place flood in over the afternoon for ice creams and coffee, and how much more effortless and easy does it get than to stroll down to a delicious supper?

As with all good beach holidays, the amount of equipment needed was mindblowing; the provisional pack included skateboards, eskis (Cool boxes), beach umbrellas, deckchairs for grandparents and fishing gear. Just to add to the spatial challenge the decision was then made to take a two man sailing dinghy down with us. This added an interesting wrinkle to the packing problem in that the combination of a learner driver needing to get her hours up and a ban on learners towing trailers meant the dinghy had to be strapped to the roof of the car along with the mast. It’s a disconcerting feeling being a passenger in a two storey car, especially given the interesting sound effects created by the strapping holding the damn thing in place, that vibrated as we gained windspeed and produced a noise akin to a cross between a dentist drill and an animal howl - Jeremy Clarkson eat your heart out!