The News from Mouseland

Good morning, my adoring fans, Mouse here.

There’s something rather strange going on around here this morning. The parents have spent very little time on my customary early morning dog-worship session on the bed, and I’m feeling a distinct lack of strokies and tummy tickles. Instead, they are putting things into bags I have not inspected, and are piling them up beside the front door. Dad had sausages for breakfast instead of toast and I was not allowed to do a quality-check. Mum wanted to play with her laptop instead of fussing with my ears so I showed her who was boss by drooling on it. Lapdogs before laptops, I say, although I’m definitely not a lap-sitting dog. Mum says I’m the Chris Hemsworth of the dog world. Tall, elegant, athletic (all good so far), and not annoyingly brainy-looking (I’m paraphrasing here, what she actually said was “not over-endowed with brains”).

I digress. I’m good at that… They have Miz Lizzie drawn up beside the front door, and while I have not inspected the inside, I could smell that my bed was ready and waiting. We’re off on another trip! I hope we’re going somewhere good, with either a nice dog park or a beach I can run on and smell things and paddle just a little bit (I don’t really like wet paws). Mum’s put together a big bag of my stuff, and I made sure there were treats in there too (“Get your nose out of there, Mouse”). Normally I don’t like it when things change, but if I’m going in the car with Mum and Dad, and Miz Lizzie has my bed, we’ll all be together and I know what to expect.

I wonder where we’re going. (“Watch this space, Mouse. All will be revealed”)

Advertisements

Miz Lizzie Adventures: Boyne River and Miriam Vale

This is going to work.

By which I mean bringing doggo along on Adventures in Miz Lizzie. Friday was a day of high stress for all of us, but Saturday went like a dream. He’s getting used to living in the caravan and back of the car, and we’re getting used to the need for one of us to be with him at all times. It takes a bit more planning, but it’s not hard.

Anyway, back to the story. We’re staying at the Boyne River Tourist Park. I’m not giving it a recommendation, because to be honest it’s a bit tired and run-down. However, it’s cheap, and perfectly placed for today’s meet up. Plus, and this is a big plus, the view is brilliant. Our site was at the top of a steep grassed bank which led down to the river bank. The Boyne is tidal, so the water level changed at different times of day. It was quiet, the scene was tranquil and apart from distant traffic sounds all you could hear was the lap of water and birdsong.

Into the car at a civilised hour on Saturday morning after a few domestic chores, and his lordship promptly went to sleep in his back seat hammock. Down the road an hour, Miriam Vale is a pretty little town which on this particular day was full of people on motorbikes, either out in the sunshine for a ride, or recent participants in the Far Ride which terminated nearby. It turns out that our friends Peter and Marion actually lived and met here many moons ago, so it had fond memories for them. In any case, it was a fun get-together in the courtyard of the Miriam Vale Café, where dogs are cherished customers and there’s a stack of water bowls waiting for them. Mouse was wearing the bespoke OzSTOC club bandanna I’d made for him, and you can see how well colour co-ordinated he is! Unfortunately, Peter was wearing his famous ‘hair’ hat, perhaps to compensate for the solar panel he wears underneath!

When we’d waved goodbye to the two of them, we were thrilled to see another familiar face (or perhaps that should be familiar motorbike – he was wearing his crash helmet) at the side of the road. Bill (aka Biggles) had been participating in the Far Ride and had just pulled over to let his missus know all was well.

Back at base, Mouse insisted on a nice long walk along the riverbank before settling down to some serious snoozing. I must admit, I wasn’t averse to a tiny toes-up either, I’d had a rather poor night due to a painful back, despite the comfiness of the bed. Still, it was steak for dinner and an early night so we could leave in good order in the morning and be home mid afternoon.

It’s been a good learning experience for all three of us. Lesson 1) do not tie Mouse up to anything. If he gets spooked, he’s very strong and will break out of harness, lead and collar and disappear into the distance, causing heart attacks all round. Leave him in the car if you can’t hang onto him. Lesson 2) Take no nonsense from him about the caravan steps or height of the car seat being too high for him. If he does it, give him lots of praise and a treat. If he won’t and has to be manhandled, no praise and no treat. Lesson 3) The caravan door is not opened unless he’s wearing harness and lead and/or someone has hold of him. Lesson 4) The caravan steps are the perfect height for his food dishes. Lesson 5) Make sure he drinks throughout the day, not just when he gets home, or you’ll be up and down all night taking him out for a pee. Lesson 6) Do NOT allow him on your bunk. It’s the thin end of the wedge, he will take over, you’ll have nowhere to sleep, and he has a perfectly good one of his own. Lesson 7) All edibles locked away.

So now we can look forward to October’s much longer trip with a degree of optimism. Mouse is a gentle, (mostly) calm and pretty accommodating dog. Given enough food, water and comfy places to sleep he’ll do fine. Just no nasty noisy surprises, please.

Oh, and keep those treats coming…

After-note: Mouse would like to tell the Husband “Happy Father’s Day, dad”…

 

Miz Lizzie Adventures: before we go

We’re off!

Just a short trip, but it’ll tell us whether Mouse enjoys the road trip/caravan experience. We’re hoping, of course, that he’ll love it as much as we do, and make lots of new doggy friends along the way.

One thing Miz Lizzie wasn’t equipped with was a large dog bed. Mouse is not a small person, and when he sleeps, it’s usually with all four legs sprawled out. We weren’t about to make him sleep outside so sleeping accommodation had to be arranged. Between us, the Husband and I have come up with a Cunning Plan. The banquette seat opposite the Husband’s bunk is used once a day, tops, and often not at all. We’ve removed the fixed table, which was large, cumbersome and heavy, and have replaced it with a folding table which goes down flat most of the time.

So we’ve run a board across from under the cushions of the banquette to a ledge the Husband installed along the side of his bunk platform. It has stops to prevent it sliding about. On top, we have the option of using the seat cushions as a doggy mattress, or better still, a section of the old bunk mattresses we’ve replaced, with the backrest cushions at either end.

We lured Mouse into Miz Lizzie (less difficult than the first time), made sure we were both occupying the bunks to remove that option, and then encouraged him to jump onto this new doggy bed, now made comfy and familiar with his floor quilt and fleece blankie.  Once up, he did his usual spin in place, lay down and proceeded to snooze. Job done. Of course, being right beside him, it now falls to the Husband to provide the constant petting that will be demanded. If he neglects his strokies duty, he’ll get poked by a cold, wet, pointy nose. My bunk, on the other hand, is too far away for Nose Attack. Mwahahaha!

The trip ought to be a well-worn routine by now, but I can’t help feeling it’s going to be a totally new experience, thanks to our shiny black friend in the back seat.

Wish us luck!

BougieNights #6: One more to go

I haven’t made quite the progress I hoped for.

Other things demanded attention, including my foray into Mousewear and various domestic issues. But I’ve managed to reach the point where I have only the final long seam to go.

On our morning walk today, Mouse and I passed this bougainvillea on a wire fence, and the colour reminded me why this quilt is called Bougainville Nights. It doesn’t communicate properly just how brilliantly orange and pink the flowers are, but you get some idea. All it needs is a brilliant north Queensland sunset and a deepening dark blue sky to bring my original colour inspiration to mind.

Speaking of Mouse, he’ll be joining us for his first caravan trip this coming weekend. We’re catching up with some friends from OzSTOC, our motorbike touring club, down in Miriam Vale, 500km south of here. We’ve found a dog-friendly caravan park on the banks of the Boyne River in Benaraby where we’ll spend two nights, and we’ll be packing Mouse’s club colours bandanna as well as our own club shirts 🙂 For the purpose of this trip, he’s our official OzDog.  I don’t think we’ll be able to train him to hold one end of the flag, but you never know.

It’ll be interesting to see how he takes to this style of travel and accommodation. One thing’s for certain: we’ll have to watch our step in the caravan at night given his lordship’s ‘legs everywhere’ space-hogging style of sleeping.

I think there’s probably one more BougieNights post to go: the completed, bound quilt, and a view of the ‘alternate quilt’ on the back. Meanwhile, I have to go and make up the caravan bunks, turn on the fridge and check the supplies.

I’ll let you know how it goes…

Miz Lizzie Adventures: Figs, Fries and Sunny Skies

We’re heading homewards.

After a final delicious meal in Cairns at the Botanic Gardens – which are, by the way, magnificent – it was time to up sticks and wagons roll, turning our faces reluctantly southwards again.

We have the process of breaking camp by heart now, and once the alarm goes off at 7am, we slip into well-oiled routines, each with our own jobs to do. By lunchtime we were back in Cardwell. This time, I’d opted to forego a crab sandwich in favour of visiting the Pie Cart (anyone seeing a pattern here?).

We ate our steaming hot beefy lovelies at a picnic bench under the old candlenut trees in the park. The trees are beautiful, very old and bent, with deeply fissured bark, glossy oval leaves and hundreds of green candlenuts hanging on stalks. They’re amazing fruit, providing all sorts of uses, and the trees themselves are magnificent.

Onwards through the rain, though we came into Townsville dry, to find they’d allocated us the powered site with the best en suite shower in the entire park. Yeah, baby, power showers! Today we met fellow blogger Manic Mum for lunch at The Ville Resort-Casino at the Marina in Townsville to sample a delicacy whose fame has spread far and wide.

No. Not fries.

Doughnut Fries!!

That’s not potato, it’s cinnamon-spiced doughnut dough, cut into sticks and deep fried. It’s then laid on a bed of chocolate sauce (not tomato sauce as you might have thought), and sprinkled with white chocolate flakes (not shaved Parmesan) and a couple of slices of strawberry. Yup, that last item might have thrown you a bit.

I have to say, they were absolutely, gobsmackingly delicious.

And this is where they were being served.

And yes, that’s Magnetic Island in the background. Just out of idle curiosity, we asked how much it would cost to stay there for a night. Oh, only $260…? We’ll stick to the caravan park. Anyway, I’d call that a pretty good send-off on the last full day of our holiday. We tootled back to Miz Lizzie along The Strand, prime beachfront real estate lined with massive old Moreton Bay Figs. The one below had a multiple trunk about 7 metres across.

Tomorrow the alarm will go off at 7am again, and we’ll swing into action for the last leg, Townsville to home. Yes, lunch will be at Jochheim’s in Bowen again. I’ll be going on a pie and chocolate exclusion diet when I get home, so I need to make the most of the opportunities that present themselves!

Signing off till we’re back. It’s been a blast having y’all along 🙂

Miz Lizzie Adventures: Lovely Lavish Loot!

As promised, then, here are the acquisitions of the past two days.

Firstly, the chocolate. I think we’ve been quite modest, really, when you consider that two of those packages are for the kind neighbours who are keeping an eye on the house and taking in our mail.

From top left to bottom right, we have milk chocolate coated coffee beans, latte flavoured milk chocolate, dark chocolate gingers, more milk chocolate coated coffee beans, dark chocolate cranberry & pistacho bar, milk chocolate salted caramel bar, and milk chocolate cranberry & pistachio bar.

Here is a current portrait of Miz Lizzie.

And here is her Mini-Me, a totally gorgeous clock with extremely funky hands and a swinging pendulum. It now hangs on the locker door above the sink, and ticks very quietly, not loud enough to be annoying while we’re trying to sleep. We saw it in the Coffee Works gift shop, where (despite the fairly substantial price ticket) buying it was a no-brainer. It’s made by a US company called Allen Designs, and they make a fair range of clock designs, something to suit everyone, I’d say.

To the point, in fact, that the Husband has ordered me a second one.

Well, no prizes for guessing where it’ll hang when it arrives. (They’re not paying me anything for this link, I’m telling you about them because you’ve got to share a good thing. Go ahead and browse. I’ll be here when you get back in an hour or two…)

And finally, I got my toes titivated. The previous pedi was getting a bit weatherbeaten, and I like to do the Husband credit when we’re prancing eagerly into a shop to Buy Stuff. I don’t normally indulge, and my toenails are habitually bare, but in holiday season you have to make a bit of an effort, don’t you?

I’ve told the Husband that in return for the clock loveliness, a holiday present for him is called for.

He initially pretended he wanted for nothing, but his eyes lit up like anything when, working on information previously received as they say in the detective stories, I suggested a rattle-gun (aka a cordless torque wrench) might be acceptable.

So there’ll be a trip to the DIY store soon. That’s a promise.

Miz Lizzie Adventures: up one hill and down another

We did a LOT today.

To the point where I can’t fit it all in one post without being tedious. So there will be more tomorrow, mainly the Loot. We started out driving past the Australian Armour & Artillery Museum, the Skyrail cable car and the Kuranda Scenic Railway to head up the Kuranda Range to the Tablelands. I’ve written about all 3 of those before, so if you’re interested, do a search for those posts, as otherwise this one will turn into War & Peace!

Once at the top of the range, we drove to Mareeba, location of our lunch destination and Coffee Works. Lunch first: a plateful of beefy goodness for us both in one of the nicest foodie pubs in the area.

The Gateway Hotel in Mareeba has been Done Up in a big way, but my word, it’s worth it. This is a corner of the pub garden. See what I mean? Pretty lush, isn’t it?

After lunch, it was time for Coffee Works, also in Mareeba. They bring together local and imported coffees from around the world, roast them and blend them. You can tour the works and see this in action. They also have a huge collection of antique coffee brewing implements and vessels, and the world’s best gift shop. The photo below shows one small corner of the huge barn that houses the gift and coffee shops.

We scored there, but more of that tomorrow. They also have a chocolaterie on site, and make their own dark, milk and white chocolate, flavoured with chilli, ginger, coffee, lemon myrtle, orange, lime & pepper, cranberry & pistachio, etc, etc. We scored heavily there too, but again, more tomorrow.

The debate was then whether to return home the way we’d come, via Kuranda, go down the Gillies Range or down the Mt Molloy-Mossman Range. We’ve done the Gillies Range a lot, so we opted for the Mt Molloy-Mossman Range via the Mulligan Highway. It’s incidentally the direction you’d start out on if you were planning to take your 4WD up to the Top End; north of Cooktown (another day’s drive away)  it’s where the roads begin to get interestingly rough and challenging!

En route to the range, we passed Quaid’s Dam (aka Lake Mitchell) beside the Mulligan Highway, an artificial lake that takes you by surprise: it’s huge, deserted, miles from everything and doesn’t really have any function, not being for irrigation, or leisure, or drinking water, despite the fact that it holds 190,000 megalitres at full capacity. I believe there was a plan at one time to build a housing development in that location, but as far as I can see, there’s nothing there to justify or support housing in that area.

The Mt Molloy-Mossman range is lovely, passing through rainforest much of the way, with a couple of outstanding lookout spots for photos. It’s interestingly wiggly and huge fun on a motorbike, to the point that on a previous trip on the motorbike we’ve turned round at the bottom so we could ride back up and then down again!

This one shows the view over Mossman to the sea; the light-coloured fields are canefields, which appear light because of the flower plumes on the tall cane.

And then from Mossman, we turned down the Rex Highway south to Cairns, passing Port Douglas and Palm Cove. We passed this sea-eagle nest on top of a power pole – how the birds are not electrocuted is beyond me, but it’s a pretty substantial nest, and it’s right beside the road.

An eagle coming in to land on that must have given a driver or two a bit of a start, wouldn’t you say?

Last stop of the day was Ellis Beach, reliably deserted and peaceful, with Double Island in the background. The sun was getting low in the sky, the sea was calm, the sky a bit patchy (the rain started later), and I got to feel the sand between my toes, always a very calming experience for me.

Home again to Miz Lizzie, cool and comfortable, for cups of tea and a bit of planning for tomorrow’s expeditions. Oh, and tomorrow I’ll show you what we bought at Coffee Works!

Till then…