Wednesday, 30 November 2011


Good morning! Zappa got up at 6 to go surfing with Ray, and they're still gone (9am) so I thought I'd write about recent expeditions. This will be a wordy one because I feel like writing, so feel free to ignore the words and look at the pictures.

The other day Zappa was working with Ray, and I was excited about exploring the area but didn't have a clue where to start. So I asked Jenny for suggestions, and she said I could come along with her, as she had a few errands to run but she'd take me round and show me places too. Score. I thought she meant she'd just show me where she was going, which I was very up for, but she actually went way out of her way to show me other places.

First we went to the alkaline water place, because it's supposed to cure every illness and be generally good for you, so I thought why not try it for a couple of months. Ray and Jenny are on it and Ray's arthritis in his fingers has got a lot better, although I think he started a chondroitin, hyaluronin and glucosamine supplement at the same time so who knows. It was empty except for us, and the salesman guy there seemed to enjoy the chance to tell us all he knew. We had nowhere to be, so we sat down on a sofa and let him give us the Alkaline Water Saleman Show. I was ready to have a good old fight with a pseudo-science pusher, but he did quite well, only saying a couple of stupid-sounding things. He has a degree in clinical sciences so he wasn't just reciting a load of stuff he learnt, he could answer my questions about the chemistry and biology he was talking about. But yes he did announce that although scientists think it's exposure to the air that makes blood clot, it's actually acid, and your skin's acidic, so that's why it clots when you cut yourself. And soo, when you're more acidic in your body than you should be (the modern health scourge), your blood is thicker, so it's harder to pump round your body. I was like *CHOKE* what?! What so your blood is 'slightly' clotted in your blood vessels is it? Right. So how come if you take a blood sample from a vein and put it in a test tube, it clots? 'Ah,' he said, 'that's because it's reacting to the acid in the AIR.' .......never mind, let's move on.... Basically I'm still skeptical, but it's worth a try. I came away with a drinks bottle with a special filter and an alkalising teabag with little metal balls in. We will see.

Next we went to Bangalow, a little villagy town sort of thing, whose main street is very cute and looks like this:

(not my picture)
We had a look round the shops and had coffee in a very nice cafe (cos I drink coffee now yknow, but only if it's super posh, decaff, and mostly air). It was nice to have a proper chat to Jenny, she is such a lovely person.

Next we did some department store shopping off a main road, Jenny needed a feather boa and some twenties style shoes for a party. I got myself a top. Success.

Then I think we went to Lennox Head, which apparently the real estate of it is more expensive than Byron, which is as bad as Sydney! Spose they have the nice beachy countrysideness but without the drunk druggy school leavers every year.

Lennox Head main street (not my picture)
We stumbled across a gelato bar, which I cannot say no to. I decided that a smoothie would be healthier so got one of those, but it had so much ice cream in I don't think it was that angelic. It was good though, and was so filling it was my lunch.

Just beside Lennox Head is Lake Ainsworth (I feel fond of it just because of it's name. Such an unmagnificent name). It's lined with Tea Tree...trees (they're a type of eucalyptus), which are called that because they leech this dark brown stuff into water their roots are in, and make it look like black tea. So it looks a bit icky but apparently it's not, and is supposed to be good for your skin. Apparently people windsurf on it in the summer, so Zap and I might look into that.

Next we went to Broken Head, home to the campsite Jenny and Ray met at! It claims a stretch of the seemingly continuous creamy beach that runs down this part of the coastline. We went for a walk on the beach and a paddle, and we saw dolphins!!! I was so happy! This is the best picture I got of them, but it's still evidence:

Can you even see them?! While we were watching, one of them jumping right into the air and did st sort of flip!
At Broken Head, I found the place I want to take our naked climbing photo. The trouble is, it's prohibited to go to. We shall see. To be continued!

Yesterday Zap was again working with Ray so I decided to go on a lone expedition to Nimbin. I'd heard it was a hippieish place. I saw it on the map (see above) and was like cool, it's quite nearby. Put it into the sat nav and it said 1 hour 5 minutes, and I thought wow that's longer than I thought. Ah well! Expeditions are made more expeditionary by being further. Now. Sat navs aren't always the wisest of things. Whereas it should have taken me to Lismore (South West area of the map), and to Nimbin from there, taking the main roads, it didn't, and took me the more 'direct' route, which turned out to be through an extremely wiggly road though copious amounts of jungle and over a small mountain. It took over an hour and a half! It was exciting though, and the views that suddenly happened now and again were amaaaaazing! It really was like being in a rainforest with a road through it, and when I went up the mountain and got a view, I could see the canopy stretching for miles and miles, and I felt like I was in one of those wildlife documentaries, where they show you the forest with a helicopter. I had The Williams Fairey Brass Band on the stereo, which turned out to be perfect music for an explorer. Look it up, it's so good!

The roads were pretty bad, craters would suddenly open up in the road and it was generally worn away. As I got closer, the bumps and potholes started being highlighted, almost decorated, which were great for giving you more warning and showing you the shape of them. I was grateful.

Eventually I got to Nimbin! It was a stinking hot day. I roamed the high street, looking in all the wacky shops and talking to people. The guy from the environmental awareness sort of shop ranted to me about coal seam gas for a while, and asked me why I was so far from home. I told him I had CFS and a lady behind me suddenly said 'OH Nimbin's a good place for you then. It'll help you get better, and also hemp oil, when I put it on my face my back goes all relaxed.' I chatted to the guy in the art gallery and he wanted to know about Bellingen, and said he'd like to go there sometime. He revealed to me that the decorated potholes are done by a local guy who actually does it illegally, but people give him money for it. He said one day he's going to get himself runover. I browsed through a mad clothes shop and listened to a woman giving healing advice to the shop owner about her cat, explaining that it was a fungus spreading through it and definitely wasn't cat flu so not to worry. I went to a crystal shop and listening to the girl running it advising a customer what pretty stones would be good for her to buy - by reading straight out of a crystal book.
I found the food emporium, which had big buckets of stuff with little spades in so you could help yourself, like gluten free muesli, dried figs, kelp, soy crunchies and things. I was tempted by many things but was in a can't-part-with-money mood so didn't. I went to Happy High Herbs, where the girl behind the counter couldn't tell me much about the healing herbs or liver-supporting teas, but when a group asked her about legal highs or what properties each type of smoking herbs had, she was very forthcoming.
I sat down on a bench for a rest and was offered marijuana by an old Aborigine guy. Someone came and comically-try-hard-subtly bought something from him. Then I went into the hemp shop, which told me hemp was the best building material, clothing material, reading material, antimaterialistic material, antimatter material......and would you like to buy a pipe?  

 This was one of the posts that held up the walkway cover. I thought it was cool.

Eventually I'd seen everything I wanted to and decided to go home, via Lismore this time. Lot quicker. Here is a picture of Nimbin Rocks, that you see as you leave.
When I got back I couldn't wait to get in the pool! Zappa came and joined me and we played childish games like who can sit on the bottom for the longest and race you to the other side underwater with your eyes closed. I was in there for nearly 2 hours! I was nicely knackered after that. I LOVE swimming. I'm going to swim everyday.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Byron Bay

Greetings! We are here in Byron Bay, drug capital of Australia, destination of all school leavers after exams (which is sadly now) and home to the Byron Bay Hat Company. It is lurvely!

First though, I will show you something of the Bellingen area's loveliness, where we were before, without internet. Or phone signal. Sometimes even the sat nav couldn't find us.

We found a slow-flowing, crystal clear river to swim in called Never Never Creek.

It has a good rope swing at this bit, and rocks to sun yourself on.

Here is a picture of Zappa in the river
because NEWSFLASH, we bought an underwater digital camera!!!

There it is. Isn't it beautiful and green? I love it so much. I know it's extravagent but Zappa said he'd totally do some extra days work for it. YAY

Something not so beautiful and green (well, that's debatable I suppose) was our next critter. I was scared one night when what looked like a huge dog poo on a step suddenly jumped up to the next step. In the morning the culprit was revealed!

Also, the Bellingen Community Market was on while we were there, to our good fortune.

It was really wonderful, like a mini glastonbury festival, but just the shopping and bits of food. In the photo is a guy playing the didjeridoo and the hang! (pronounced hung, very hard to obtain instrument). I bought a couple of tops, some thai fishermans trousers and the short skirt version, and some very natural peanut butter which was going cheap as it was past its sell-by date (still not that cheap, ah well, I liked it and its naturalness), which made me feel extremely sick for hours after eating as part of my lunch, and has lurked in the cupboard ever since as I don't really want to try it again to make sure it was evil, but I can't bear to throw it away in case it wasn't.

I digress.

We pootled up the Pacific Highway, passing the Giant Prawn, which I'm sure was in Endless Summer II, I was so excited.

It was a rainy miserable day which was nice for me as a passenger because we didn't expire from heat exhaustion in Dingo, but not so good for the driver because of the whole visibility thing (I'm sure this visibility thing is a myth, don't you just FEEL where to go?), and not so good for the blood samples courier in front of us when the rain had dissolved the road into, er, offroad, which was quite a bone-shaking ride for a few hundred metres.

Anyway Byron Bay, it is good. The beach and supermarket have been prettty insanely busy this weekend, but what with all the schoolies, what do you expect. The surf was nice and gentle, we went out to a couple of spots. Ray is our new surf coach. The tip we learnt today (amongst others) was that if you want to get a parking spot, you get there before 8am.

Noish. The beach is usually much more existent than this apparently, this was a super high tide. I actually surfed a little bit at the second spot! Ray brought us a biiig learners rubber-topped board to play with, which I loved, much more what I'm used to. It's like catching a train. It got a bit exhausting lugging it out through the white water though, Zappa's is muuuch much lighter and easier to turn, but not as easy to catch waves with.

We went off in search of the famous lighthouse, and found it.

And had a lovely view of the beaches on the way back down.

Ahh well after not having computery technologicalities for so long my eyes are feeling rather square. I shall retire. Enjoy.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Exciting Urunga Beach News

We’re in Bellingen and it’s wonderful and hippieish and I love it but no time for that because I have something to exclaim:
Actually I’ve decided I’ll build up to it.

We found the most amazing beach called Hungry Head just south of Urunga, it is MASSIVE and the sand has such a high silicone content it squeaks if you drag your feet through it. And there was no one there, maybe one or two people within the nearest kilometre, but I mean Manly and Bondi have people everywhere, and loads of surfers in the water scowling at you if you’re not amazing and haven’t been there for 15 years. ANYWAY look at the beach!

And Zappa went surfing and I went for a little walk, and I felt that proper on-holiday feeling walking along the beach in my bikini all nice and warm, picking up shells to look at as I went. Pretty impressive me going for a walk at all. Then I came back and Zappa came out of the sea, and he said ‘Come out with me! We’ll put you on my board and I can push you about. The water’s only about up to my shoulder where the waves break and they’re not very big.’ And I was INSPIRED by this idea and I said ‘Ok!’ and I went out and got on his board and MY it is small – I mean it’s not a short board, but it’s 7’6” when I’m used to about 8’6” nice big floaty boards. And it was so skinny! Anyway I was so excited and Zappa pushed me into a wave and I CAUGHT IT and I STOOD UP WOOOOOO OFF I WENT and I was like SHIT YEAH and well the waves broke quite close to the beach and I didn’t get off because I was having so much fun and so suddenly the fins stuck in the sand, and like it was a horse refusing a jump the board stopped dead and I went flying forwards, and went DMPH onto the sand and the wave ground me along the sand on my front for a while then made me do crazy pencil rolls, and I was laughing so hard even though it hurt. Cos I’d caught a wave! And sort of got wiped out in about 6 inches of water!! Oh it was good. And I ran straight back out and Zappa helped me get back, and I got another one but didn’t stand up cos it felt so fast and mental. And THEN I went straight back out again, oh I think I let Zappa catch one, then I went out with him again and he said he thought we should go over to the right a bit, and I said COME ON THEN and turned the board and he let go and I paddled off! And it felt so good to be on a surfboard right there and then. Like I went off surfing because it’s so cold and terrifying and you just get beaten up. But here, on this beach, the water was a good temperature, the waves were nice and soft 2 footers, you only had to make it about 15 metres from the nice sandy beach to catch one, so it wasn’t scary at all, it just felt good. And I caught another one and I stood up again! And along I wooshed, WOO I’m surfing, oo I could attempt a turn, how flashy – and I turned it right and then I suddenly grounded again! I didn’t go completely down though, I just fell on my knee and look! I got a SURFING INJURY!!!!

I am so cool. If anyone asks I am going to say ‘Oh that? Yeah just a little ding – I was surfing and wiped out, yeah bounced off the bottom a bit. Haha (world wise laugh).’

Where’s the beach?! (Relevant to climbers)

Oh ALSO, by the car park for this amazing best beach, we saw our first ROOS!!!
So crazy they are.

Anyhoo I have come to Bellingen library to proclaim these things and our internet time is running out so I'd better go. On Thursday we're going on up to Byron Bay, so hopefully will have internet there.

Monday, 14 November 2011

We're off!

Tomorrow morning we are going to Bellingen for a few days, on our way to our actual destination, Byron Bay, to stay with Lymn family friends, Jenny and Ray. So excited! Not sure when the next time we'll have internet is, so....yes. Here are some pictures of the Bondi Sculpture By The Sea 2011 exhibition.

And here's a picture of Lili dancing on the Balmoral Bandstandy thing at Mosman.
That was after we all went out for a gorrrgeous Thai meal. I drove us back in Lee's car which was an automatic. Exciting. So strange not having to put the clutch in when you come to a stop - you're just waiting for it to stall, but it doesn't.

Today it was SO hot! It was 37 degrees. That's hot, in my book of hot. I officially love air con. Wish the van had it for our 7 hour journey....

YAY adventures!

Friday, 11 November 2011

Pictures from the last few days

Ruth finds a worshippable waterfall on a walk to investigate naked climbing photo destinations.

Water Dragon in his jungle

Ruth and Zappa took the dog for a walk and I joined them on my rollerblades! ...I didn't make it. I think I got about halfway to the halfway point and then got brought coffee (cos I drink coffee now yeeeah) and picked up in the car. Those brick pavements are hard work.

Woody wishing Ruth would come back from Aldi
'Mum, please come back!'

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

7 Eleven Day and Creepy Gecko

Yesterday Jake, Patrick, his friend, and me went on a spontaneous and brief snorkel trip to the Bower. It was the best snorkel session I've had so far in Australia, I saw loads of fish, including these two:

Bicolour Parrotfish - about 60cm

Blue Groper - or maybe something like this anyway - about 70cm. Big!

I did lots of good diving and had fun with the fishies. Because the Bower is a nature reserve there are many big fish there, and there are lots of divers and snorkellers there all the time so they don't all run away quite so fast.

Then we went and picked Lili up from school and Zappa up from his last day at the building site (for now!). Bless him, when we got there we were like 'Where is he?' 'I don't know...' 'I can't see him...' Then like when someone points out the camouflaged lizard on the branch right in front of you, we realised he was only a few feet away in a trench. The orange dirt of the trench had completely covered him, then behind him was bricks, so he was completely invisible! When he clocked off we whisked him away, and someone remembered it was 7 Eleven day (7th November).

 Ok 7 Eleven is like Spar - those shops that are everywhere. Some are like Londises, local shops, and lots are like Spars as they do petrol.
So. It was 7 Eleven Day, which was VERY exciting because if you go into a 7 Eleven on said magical day, and say 'Happy 7 Eleven Day!' They give you a FREE slurpee!!! Which is like a Slush Puppy only possibly with slightly more E numbers. I realised with my powers of immense memory, comparison, evaluation and deduction, that THIS must be what the famous Squishee was based on:

Patrick and Lili with their slurpees. Lili's was cola, raspberry and strawberry-kiwi flavoured. Mmm. I drank half of mine and gave the rest to Zappa cos the amount of sugar and nuclear waste in it scared me. 

So. That was fun. Patrick is my favourite Jake-friend, he is so funny, he does unnerving deadpan humour which I love. But he left to go back to Hong Kong for 2 months today, which is rubbish.

Today it was a nice hot hot day, and so Zappa, Jake and I decided to go to the dam. Zappa was carrying my moon chair out from the garage when I spotted this little guy on it and yelled excitedly until I formed coherant words, and pointed him out:

He was about 20cm long. Zappa saw him and leapt away! He really didn't like it! It was SO funny cos he takes the piss out of me for being afraid of spiders, and there he was all freaked out by a lizard. Funny stuff.

Looking at the pictures now, though, he does look kind of evil.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Learning about Australia

The population of the UK is, according to google, 61 million.

The population of Australia is 21 million.

There they are.
The UK is       244,820 square km.
Australia is 7,686,850 square km.
This gives population densities of
UK: 395 people/km2
Oz: 2.8 people/km2

This could have something to do with the fact that 40% of the landmass of Australia is covered with sand dunes.
But the population density of New South Wales, the state we're in, is 8.87. NSW is supposed to be quite liveable-in.
Even the Australian Capital Territory only has a pop density of 154. That's the Canberra area.


Australian money is nice and colourful:
    And the coins have Aussie animals on them. Can you see the 5cents one with the echidna? So cute! The 50 cents is 12 sided, so it's a...douzagon? Googling...Dodecagon. It weighs a ton cos it's quite thick too.
    • Australian banks use 'Swedish rounding', where stuff is rounded to the nearest 5 cents, because nothing is really worth 1 cent and they can't be bothered with it all.
    • When you pay with a card you have the option of PIN or sign. This seems backward to me. Some places, like petrol stations, you just hold your card up to a beeper thing and you're done.
    Crisps are chips. Chips are hot chips or just chips, or maybe fries if they're really skinny. (?!)

    Slang from Jake:
    You're a cack! - You're hilarious
    Devo - devasted
    Avo - afternoon

    It seems to be absolutely compulsory to say 'How are you.' after you greet someone, even if it's at the checkout when you're paying for your shopping.

    Other Australian Things:
    • The cheap sunscreen is still really nice.
    • The weather is so unpredictable that the forecasters don't bother much with trying to predict it anymore, instead they tell you what the weather was like today with the evening news. It can be 30 degrees one day and then some sort of swirl comes off the antarctic and it's suddenly cold the next day.
    • South-facing rooms aren't the ones that get the sun all day. Think about it. It's really screwing with my sense of direction.


    Wednesday, 2 November 2011

    Skink and PLAN

    Zap and I went to Manly beach so that I could have my first rollerblade around (!) and he could go surfing. On the concrete next to the van was a little tiny skink, and I took a picture of him:
    I'm really chuffed with it because him minus his tail was only about 2 inches long! Not that I pulled his tail off. I just want to give a sense of scale and you can't see his tail. I like it as well because from normal head height the skinks look a sort of charcoal grey, and up close it seems they are all oily-multicoloured-shiny!

    Rollerblading was good, could feel it working muscles that don't usually get used much and it was nice to zip along overtaking the joggers! It was a little nerve wracking though because there were so many people and small children to dodge, and cracks in the pavement and the thought of how bad it would be to fall over. I know I shouldn't care about 5 zillion people staring at me and asking me if I'm alright after going flying and cracking bits of my body open on the sea front, but, well, I did. Need to find a nice newly tarmacked car park that's empty in the evenings, so I can slalem around sticks and practise doing cool turns and generally pretend I'm a superhero.

    Zap said he had the best ride of the trip so far, and was very chuffed. Sadly I missed it.

    Good news! Jenny and Ray, friends of the family who live in Byron Bay, phoned Ruth for a catchup and asked how we we were doing, and Ruth said we were planning to go north soon, and that Zappa has been on the lookout for work, and apparently Ray was about to put an advert out for a wooferer to help him do some sort of manly work. Perfect or what?! So after Dingo gets serviced on Monday (let's hope nothing big needs doing to it) we'll be heading up to Byron, stopping in a few places on the way! I'm so excited!!!

    More good news: Zappa has also got some labouring work tomorrow and Friday! Hopefully it will pay enough to cover the van's service.


    Tuesday, 1 November 2011

    Moon furniture and Grownup Possum

    Today Zap and I went to Anaconda, an outdoorsy camping fun shop. I had my work cut out for me reining him in.
    'We need a lamp.'
    'Do we?'
    'Yes. For camping. A camping lamp. You need them.'
    'Ok. But let's stop looking at the $100 ones yeah? Look, here's one for $20.'
    'Yeah but...this one has multiple brightnesses.'
    I wait silently until he finally drags himself away. This pattern holds for other items.

    'Emma can I have a knife?'
    'Yeah we need a knife for chopping things.' I follow his gaze. 'Ok if the knife is sitting in a glass cabinet and doesn't have a price, no you can't.'

    'Hey look, a cast iron cooking set!'
    'Hey look, a kayak!'
    We walk past a metal sputnik-like thing. 'Oh my god I want it what is it?!'
    '...It's a presurised shower machine...'

    One thing we DID instantly agree on and therefore were allowed to buy were these MOON CHAIRS!

    Jake models one wonderfully. Do you like the clipon umbrella on the other one? That was the last one left in the shop, otherwise we would have got one each.

    You can sit on them any way, which I like because I like having my feet up, all nice and curled up.

    Later on I was helping Lili with her maths homework when Zappa rang.
    'Em do you want to see a possum?'
    'Look out of the window at the rocks, it's in a tree.'
    I looked out of the window and could see Zappa stood in a tree. Very funny. If he's gone to all this trouble to be funny, I thought, I may as well humour him. 'Oh WOW, it's a very big possum isn't it? It's massive! Ooo.'
    He sounded confused. 'It's sort sized...'
    'Oh the possum isn't you?'
    'What - no...'
    'There really is a possum?! YAY POSSUM STAY THERE YAY-'

    Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww I LOVE possums. I especially love this one.

    Turns out Zap wasn't even in a tree, just stood on the top of the rocks behind it.