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Hug Mug & Chocolate OD

February 27, 2011 4 comments

I rather like chocolate, so I took it upon myself to try out a chocolate bar on the Gold Coast. My friends might be surprised to learn that I’ve never quite recovered. The photos might explain why.

Chocolate bar

While I was happily drinking my hot chocolate in a “Hug Mug”, I was thinking two things:

Dark hot chocolate, milk hot chocolate (skipped the white hot chocolate)

1. Isn’t this mug a great idea?
2. What does it remind me of?

Hug Mug (was a man standing up, or sitting down, when he thought of this?)

As if sensing my thoughts, Miss Six asked, “Mummy, why does your mug look like a men’s urinal?”

After that, nothing quite tasted right. Otherwise, I would highly recommend the nearest chocolate bar, though you might like to order a bit less than we did….

I've never met a chocolate thing I didn't like ...

Everything with its own chocky dipping sauce

Milkshakes in curious vessels

Just a tiny bit more? (Monty Python's man with the bucket comes to mind)

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Brisbane City markets

February 26, 2011 3 comments

An unexpected delight this week – a fresh food market in the city!

Just some of the little lovelies …

L-l-lurvved the spelt fig pistachio bread!

Funkiest little finger limes, Aussie natives!

Beads of lime heaven, ready to burst in your mouth.

Extraordinary tomatoes - tasting as they should

I was too busy shopping and eating to take any more photos, but take it from me, it’s worth a visit. The stone fruit was the tastiest I’ve had in YEARS, ditto the apples. The French bread shop didn’t disappoint, either. My lunch break ran out before I could get to the cupcake stand, which leaves me something to look forward to for next week.

Wednesdays, top of the Mall – enjoy!

PS. Thanks to my ‘tour guide’, SJ.
PPS. Want to see more about the finger limes, check out Bagni di Lucca and Wild Finger Limes – citrus caviar. Amazing.

An uplifting corporate uniform

February 13, 2011 4 comments

Something on the grinding, awful bus trip from work on Friday made me smile, so I simply had to share it (at great risk to myself, I might add).

It was at my eye level, as I’d scored a seat, so it’s not like I was looking for mischief… Anyhow, take a look at this uplifting corporate uniform and note which way the little plane is pointing on the belt buckle.

A perky, corporate belt buckle for a travel agent (Flight Centre)

Now, think what message it might send should the little plane be pointing down.

Assuming we both keep catching the same bus, I shall be avoiding eye contact with this man all year.

Have a great day!

Coffee shop? Really?

February 13, 2011 6 comments

Imagine my surprise, when my new boss led me in between and behind old buildings and under a boom gate for our first team meeting over coffee. Coffee shop? Where? Is this some peculiar initiation ceremony for writers?

Squeeze through a little gap to get around it, or just go under it. All in the name of coffee...

What was even more surprising, was that we couldn’t get a seat. It was packed.

Wooden bench seats & tables inside and coffee machines screaming their own happy tune. Brisbane's hip new place for caffeine.

What does this say about Brisbane’s sophisticated coffee-drinking set? Would you like to get mugged with your coffee, or would you like your coffee in a mug?

Now that I’m back in the city working, after a long stint in the burbs, I’d appreciate any tips on places to go. Do you know of any cool places?

P.S. This place is somewhere around Elizabeth St Brisbane. Have fun trying to find it!

Australia Day. And no, Sir Parkinson, we’re no British mini-me

January 26, 2011 2 comments

Happy Australia Day everyone!

I hope today is the day that everyone who’s lucky enough to be here, sends up a thought or prayer of gratitude. It’s the day we celebrate our “Lucky Country” status. Even those who’ve recently been down on their luck know that if you had to be in a natural disaster, better here than just about anywhere else: more than 22,000 flood-cleanup volunteers in Brisbane on one Saturday alone would suggest this.

Australia has always been a country of droughts, floods and fires. But it’s also the place where no matter who you are, you can roll up your sleeves and make something of yourself. Even convicts who were sent to the much maligned Port Arthur convict settlement had the opportunity to work off their crimes and sins and be released into the most beautiful country, to start life anew.

British tv personality, Sir Michael Parkinson, gave this year’s Australia Day address, being the first non-Aussie to do so. If it works, so what, is the Australian attitude to most things, and this was no different. Having a whinging Pom address us as a nation on our special day? So what, turn the meat on the barbie, darl. But, after his speech, he told reporters,

Why should Australia not be a republic? “It’s its own country, its own man. I find it incomprehensible that it’s not that now.

The dear man jumped on the trendy Republic bandwagon, without fully appreciating the Australian psyche, which is a shame, given that Parky’s insightfulness is supposedly legendary.

What Parkinson missed is this.

In Australia, we’re a practical bunch. If it works, it works. We’ll fix just about anything with a coat-hanger and superglue. We don’t care what you do or how you look, as long as you try to join in and carry your own weight – except when you absolutely can’t – then we’ll carry you. We recognise that we were once a colonial outpost, but while the rest of the world was preoccupied, something happened – we grew up.

Parkinson, like many others, insists on painting Australia as a pre-teen (tween) who should move on and become a surly teenager – that, to establish its identity, it needs to deny its past (especially the good bits and harp on about the bad bits) – and move away from its roots. This is sad. It’s also a misjudgment of character. Worse still, instead of letting us celebrate who we are, Parky tells us what we should be. If the Republic rant had to be included, it could have been more thoughtful, like…

Australia is its own country. It wouldn’t be surprising if it became a Republic, but then, that’s up to the Australian people. It’s not for me to say it should be the case, because that would be me assuming some sort of colonial authority, which would be highly ironic on Australia Day.

Parky, over here, you should know, that just because we love you, doesn’t mean we’ll listen to you, particularly if you preach. So it is with the Queen. Except that she has the good grace to know her place. If we want to become a Republic and we have nothing else to spend millions upon millions of dollars upon, we’ll give you a call. Thanks, mate. Remember, we’re a practical bunch and spending millions of dollars to remove references to the Queen in all our statues, and chucking out all the dinnerware and cutlery and stationery in Parliament House and our embassies… well, it doesn’t seem that practical, does it?

So, Happy Australia Day, fellow travelers. Or, Orstraya Day. ‘Cos we don’t need to say it like Parky, to know what it means to us.

Brisbane floods: Another day in paradise

January 17, 2011 2 comments

Just a quick update. Must be day 4 of relocating the bookshop from the flood zone and everything hurts.

Maybe this is why.

Moved 3 rooms like this one, with bookshelves on all 4 walls...

Great news, is that everything’s out and safely in another location. So now, it’s just re-shelving. Re-cataloguing is something entirely else and isn’t a priority.

Some books weren’t so lucky.

Just a few of the books that didn't make it...

There was no time for fussing. With rain threatening and mud waiting to be cleaned out…

Packing on the run ...




Just another load

This part of New Farm is looking great now. Lord Mayor, Campbell Newman was even on the beat collecting kerbside rubbish yesterday (Sunday) – hats off to him, he’s working hard. There are muddy reminders on the roads, but with the rubbish gone, you could be forgiven for not noticing there was a disaster here. But that’s only in some streets, in this particular suburb, which has pulled up remarkably well.

Volunteers who packed onto council busses recently, however, have sometimes been frustrated by the lack of co-ordination, resulting in the wasting of hundreds of man hours (person hours, if you must). One bus, for example, had volunteers lining up from 7am, but didn’t take off until after 10am. It drove around for half an hour, then deposited volunteers in an area of New Farm where people were coping well and turning away help (no-one accepts help unless they really need it & assume that someone needs it more). So, that whole bus load of people, who’d given a whole day, were told to wait by the bus to be taken back to the depot – where the next bus load of keen volunteers was being loaded up, again, to an unknown destination.

Overall, the recovery operation has been great, but the volunteers need to be co-ordinated better. Also, someone needs to better think through how to manage donations of goods instead of turning them away and demanding cash. Not everyone has cash to donate. The argument that the cash can then be spent in the region itself is a bit of a furphy also, because those shops are under water, unable to resume normal supplies etc.

It’s taken me the better part of a week just to help one household in one street in one suburb. Happily, the house is now liveable, and subject to wrangling with insurance, life goes on. However, there are so many others who are still pushing mud out of their front doors, and volunteers are being mismanaged. It’s maddening.

Brisbane Floods: Catching concrete, saving fish

January 14, 2011 1 comment

Dear Friends,

On Thursday, 13th January, 2011, at about 4 a.m. the Brisbane River peaked.

Reliable sources tell me (without compromising photographic evidence) that New Farm was party central the night before the Brisbane River peaked. Residents, sick of waiting for the inevitable, took to the only store that was open … the Brunswick Hotel. The bottlo did a brisk trade, with a queue ten cars long into the evening. That would be the convict spirit (pun intended) coming through – if you’re stuffed, you may as well quit worrying about it.

The morning of the 13th, when the river peaked and started receding, residents could barely recognise their neighbourhood.

A local rescued a fish from a gutter in Villiers St, New Farm. Happily, for the fish, it was returned to the river. The fish’s name was “Max”, if you must know. We think it was a Whiting.

Andy rescues a fish from Villiers St

The Auntie-who-thinks-of-everything provided me with a bunch of photos which she took for you, Dear Readers. Auntie lives in the now-swamp of New Farm. I’ll be out there cleaning stinky, burping mud with her shortly.

I’ve put the images into a slideshow (below), to the haunting sounds of La Spina – Brisbane pop princess Anna-Maria La Spina & opera-singing brother, Rosario. You might want to check out their first album together, La Spina: Always You. I reviewed it here. Thanks Anna-Maria & Rosario. I know you both care a lot about your hometown.

As mentioned in my post yesterday, Brisbane has lost its Riverwalk to the flood. It was due to be dismantled during the night, but eye-witness Auntie was saying her last goodbye to it at about midnight when it started making loud pinging, snapping and cracking noises, as if it were being detonated into pieces. The police present radioed it in – next thing we knew, two bits (one around 7m, the other around 70m) broke free and caused much stress – should they have knocked into a bridge, it would’ve been done for. In the morning, just before one such piece was due to collide with a bridge, a brave little tug boat came out and bumped it under safely.

One wonders how much concrete now lies at the bottom of Morton Bay and precisely where. One minute, fish are swimming on concrete; next, the concrete comes to them. Very confusing times, indeed.

Here are the New Farm-centric images from Thursday.

Please keep Queensland in your thoughts and prayers.

Article & links to volunteering here.

UPDATE: Reader Lee suggests that our fish may in fact be a Bream – thanks Lee!