Miz Lizzie Adventures: Coast and country

I suffer from deep verandah envy.

That’s deep envy of deep verandahs, in case you were wondering about the ambiguity. Yesterday, we visited our friends down the coast a little. Dale is a blogging friend, and a while ago she and her husband made the brave leap from city life in Sydney to live permanently in their country bolt hole. Like any so-called idyllic setting, it has its downsides (30kms to the nearest bank/post office/supermarket, zero mobile phone signal, etc), but the sheer beauty of their surroundings, the peacefulness and the community around them are a worthy pay-off for these minor inconveniences. But what really seals the deal for me is their house. She’s a traditional Australian wooden house on stumps, high-ceilinged and with spacious rooms that nearly all open onto the verandah. And oh, what a verandah!

A great deal of their living is done there: working, eating, snoozing, Skyping friends, playing with the dog and simply gazing out at the green glory of their view. I adore that house, I would kill for that verandah, and I love spending time there, admiring the hard work they’ve put into the house and garden, the epic vegetable cage he has built to keep the marauding local wildlife out of the vegies, the enormous passionfruit vine with the biggest, shiniest fruit dangling from it that I’ve ever seen. All that…. It reminds why I first went to live in northern NSW, and why it’s still one of my most favourite spots on earth.

The air is full of birdsong there, and not much other noise, and though I was unable to capture the female Fairy Wrens that were hopping about and twittering loudly, I did manage a shot of this Eastern Spinebill feeding from the tubular red flowers of the grevillea. The sun caught his back at just the right moment, and his normally rather slatey blue back feathers gleam with iridescence.

And finally, no day here is complete without my walk on the beach. It was twilight when I got there, the moon was bright, the sky was clear and pristine, and the sun had just left the waves. I sat on a dead tree embedded in the sand and just absorbed it…

Today is going to be a moderately quiet day. We have some shopping to do, and are going to scope out the venue for this year’s motorbike rally in October, which is happening some 130kms up the coast from here. Miz Lizzie will wait in the sunshine for us to get home and for me to get tonight’s curry started…

Another beautiful day ahead. Life is hell…!



Far Beach, Mackay

Today was rather dull; at work, grocery shopping, that sort of thing. I didn’t have anything exciting to write about, but still need my blogging ‘hit’, so I thought I’d take a look at some photos I took last weekend.

Far Beach, looking directly east at low tide

Far Beach, looking directly east at low tide

Far Beach is one of Mackay’s southern beaches.  Go there on any weekday and you have the place virtually to yourself.  When the tide is out, all you see as far as the horizon is bands of light and dark sand, depending on how wet it is, the occasional strip of water, and then sky.  The colours are limited in palette and the effect is very peaceful.  It’s huge, it’s empty, and you’re all alone with the sand, the water and the sky.

Melaleuca quinquenervia, the Paperbark

Melaleuca quinquenervia, the Paperbark

At the side of the road that runs along the beach, there’s a grove of huge paperbarks.  They’re airy and graceful despite their size, because the delicate flaky white bark makes them seem insubstantial.  The great branches twist and writhe to and fro overhead, and gentle filtered sunlight washes down to the ground below.  The council  has had the great good sense to make  picnic tables and water fountains available in this oasis of tranquility, so the Husband and I, being both free that day, took our lunch out there to enjoy the view, the smell of the sea, the sounds of wind in the leaves and butcher birds tootling plaintively, and the extremely delicious sandwiches we’d put together.

Cracticus tibicen, the Australian magpie, very different from the European version

Cracticus tibicen, the Australian magpie, very different from the European version

Serendipitously, we were joined by a magpie.  He was mainly interested in smoked salmon and avocado sandwich scraps, but deigned to hold still while I got a photo of him.  A female butcher bird came and sang for us briefly in the hope of cashing in on the food offering, but was seen off smartly by the black and white bully so I couldn’t get a good photo of her. Just take a look at the beak on him! During the spring all over Australia, signs go up warning people about being swooped on and attacked by these extremely territorial birds, and blood is regularly drawn, including mine on one occasion.

The papery layers of white bark which gives the tree its name

The papery layers of white bark
which gives the tree its name

I tried unsuccessfully to capture the colour and texture of the bark on the paperbark trees.  You get only the vaguest idea of how beautiful it is from this photo. The camera’s just not sophisticated enough to record the minute changes of colour and texture which make this surface so visually rich to the naked eye.  I’m going to keep trying until I get something I’m happier with, which better communicates the essential character of the tree.

So, that’s today’s offering.  Tomorrow’s Saturday, and the Husband is at work. I will be umbilically attached to my sewing machine while I pound out lines and lines of quilting.  If I apply myself and don’t have too many coffee-and-biscuit breaks, it should be fully quilted by the end of the day.  I have decided not to put the larger magpie panel on the back.  It looked like an afterthought.  I will find a use for it somewhere, somehow.  Three days till the next road trip south.  I think it’ll be done in time.

What’s new in your world?

Words under pressure #2

Well, plenty of you seemed to like the last offering.  Asking for trouble…. Now you’re getting more…

My Father’s House

The walls are tiger-striped
Where sunshine drenches blue shutters,
Oozing softly between the bars,
Warm, dust-moted, dazzling.

Air is silken, heavy,
Laden with scents of sun-hot rock,
Coffee, sea-salt, pine, new bread.
Breath it. The heart sings.

The silence is full of sounds:
Under everything, the constant rollers
Breaking onto the shore below.
Distant dogs bark, birds whistle, pines rustle, heat ticks.

Throw back the shutters.
Sun strokes the sleepy skin,
Cool tiles wake the feet with tiny grits of sand,
Rough stone balustrade under the palms.

Inhale light, sound and touch.
All fresh, vivid, beautiful, familiar.
Exhale the city, noise and dirt.
This is home, this is peace, this is summer.