The leadup to a Brisbane summer

I don’t know why, but the washing maching turned off before it finished draining. So the door was locked and I had to run another 15 minute cycle before I could get my bits out.

It was 38 degrees today, for like, no reason. But it was a welcome change. I feel like I’ve barely had a summer since I’ve been in Australia, so I took a walk and basked in the oppressive heat for a bit before taking shelter in my apartment which inexplicably kept a level 25 degrees throughout the day without aircon. I assume it’s a combo of good insulation and the heatsink properties of the massive concrete structure.

So I’m happy. I’m really enjoying being here, in this place and time.


On the weekend I went to visit R on Macleay Island. He moved from the very middle of the city for a somewhat literal sea change. More specifically a bay change.

I never realised how gorgeous Moreton Bay actually is. From Macleay you can see all the islands, Peel, Moreton, North Stradbroke. On Saturday just after sunset we saw twinkling lights on the horizon which turned out to be boats mooring off Peel which is apparently a popular getaway spot.

Apparently there’s a (not so?) secret bar on one of the islands that’s popular with seafaring types. Just float up and grab a meal. My hairdresser owns a boat, so I know these things you see.


Last year I took a trip to North Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah) just to take a break. It was pre-vaccine so it was a weird and anxious experience, and I didn’t have appropriate clothes so I came home with a nasty sunburn. To top it off I accidentally and irreparably deleted most of my photos and vlog footage in a freak MacOS accident. So I wasn’t happy with myself, and truth be told it wasn’t a super relaxing experience.

But with my newfound appreciation for the beauty of the bay and the islands, and a bit more of an understanding of what centers me, I think I want to get out there more in some way.


For perhaps a year I’ve had some notes scratched down and a vague hand-wavy plan to do a vlog series centered around the southeast Queensland rail network. Partly as an excuse to get out and travel more, but also because I don’t have a car and don’t want to get one while our weird supply chain issues are making everything increasingly expensive.

So my idea is that even if I can’t drive to all the beautiful places I know exist around SEQ, I can still explore plenty of other options that don’t necessarily get as much love. The concept of travelling to the ends of each line really appeals to me both as a train nerd and also as a poor schlub who doesn’t have his own transit.


My first trip was an easy one, something I’d already done. Back to Macleay Island to circumnavigate it by bicycle.

I wanted to visit Ryan again, but also find my own way under my own power without needing to catch an Uber or a lift. So this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

The day before my trip I found my bike was making a noise, which was super annoying because of COURSE I should have made sure it was in good working order before I set off. The guy at the bike shop didn’t have time to do a service, but he tightened everything up and it fixed it (for a while at least).

The trip itself consisted of bike to South Brisbane station -> train to Cleveland station -> bike to Redland Bay Marina -> ferry to Macleay -> Bike to Ryan’s. It’s a modest 14 km ride on paper. In practice the trip from Cleveland was hilly and without amenity. I lost count of the times I needed to ride on the grass to get back on the path, or a tiny shoulder as cars raced past.

I sent a random email to the council asking what their preferred route is, in case I missed something.

Anyway the rest of the journey was incredible The ferry is starting to show its age, but it’s amazing to be on the water, watching all the islands slide past. The boats everywhere, doing their thing. Some kid on a jetski.

I never realised Stradbroke Island was so mountainous. I was in awe of it in the distance behind the relative flatness of the South Moreton Bay Islands.

I’ve got a vlog planned, I’m not sure how it’s gonna pan out because that bicycle leg of the trip I didn’t have a GREAT time. But I won’t spoil the rest.

My take-away is that Macleay Island is an incredible, weird, surprisingly normal suburban place completely out of place that I enjoyed riding around. Again, it’s deceptively large and I didn’t get as much done as I originally planned, but I had a fantastic time doing it.


Tomorrow I’m leaving on another trip, this time to Gympie (North).

It’s an odd one, because most people don’t realise the trains go up that far. And to be fair, they hardly do. I think it’s two services a day and the rolling stock are OLLLLDDDDD as heck.

It’s an old gold rush town with a steam heritage and not too much else going for it.

But it’s a cheap destination I’m excited to get out there.


I’m sitting on my balcony, the sun is going down casting golden rays across the walls, and I’m watching a tiny money spider bounce around the table in front of me looking for a bug to eat.

I kind of started this post a month or so ago, and checked back in occasionally but only just finished it now. If “finished” is how you’d describe it. Published at least.

But I’m happy. Things are good. And I’m really enjoying being here, in this place and time.

Macleay

It’s 1am local time on the island. I’m not asleep but also not quite not as I last here composing this tweet. The wind is rustling through the leaves and cicadas chatter gently in the distance. Every so often lightning flashes over the bay illuminating the bedroom. No curlews yet

A very grainy night time shot of some indistinct trees

A memory from quarantine

When I came back to Australia and went into hotel quarantine, probably my only complaint was that I had no way to wash my drinking glass. Bar soap, as it turns out, not good. I asked and they sent up a thing of dish washing liquid which I kept ever since.

It’s been refilled a bunch of times and at some point the cap fell off and went missing. It’s been over a year and it was never designed to be reused as much as it has been but it was a small kindness, and as stupid as it is I’m getting emotional throwing it away.

I’m very grateful to Victoria. For putting me up, but also giving me a thing of soap when I needed it most.

Brisbane Winter

When I first moved back to Brisbane I had nothing, really. Ben was kind enough to give me his old TV that he wasn’t using, and it was probably one of the best hand-me-downs I’ve ever gotten. Thank you, Ben.

Reddacliffe place. The sun has gone down behind the library building. It's very blue and cold, but there's a hint of golden sunlight in the distance.

I have a particular affinity for a good TV. The one I had in Amsterdam was small and bad, so I really appreciated upgrading to the forty-something inch goodness and crisp clarity of the 720p display. I’m convinced everything looks good on a 720p display, it’s the great equalizer.

Now it’s been a bit over a year and I’m back in my place and I want to decorate. I want to mount the TV and cabinet on the wall and have a proper cosy space. But if I’m going to do that, I need to get the right TV first. Measure once, cut twice y’know? 😅

Looking down George Street. The road is super damaged, and the skyscrapers form an urban canyon. There's a glimpse of sunset on the horizon.

So that’s what I did. I saw there was a one-day sale online, and the model I’d had my eye on was just the right price. So I jumped on my bike and rode into the city to look at them in person.

It was just before closing time, but the guy was very helpful. I suppose he got himself a nice commission from the transaction, so we both win.

The golden sun on the horizon streaming light through the fence at the top of the Kurilpa Bridge.

It’s an extravagant purchase, and I feel like all I’ve done since moving home is buy more stuff. So I’m feeling a little guilty about it. But it’s been on my list for at a year now, and if it’s like the last TV I bought I’m hoping it will last pretty much forever.

It’s getting delivered on Monday so I have a few more nights with the trusty old faithful. Then comes the tricky part, working out how to mount the new one.

An old broken down pier that the party boat used to use before the 2011 floods. The sun is really low on the horizon, casting yellow rays everywhere.

Pictured: some bits from the bike ride.

Wet week in West End

I went out for a coffee to reset my head. It’s a grey and rainy winters day, kinda gives me European vibes. The plants are loving it, though I don’t know where to put them all yet.

Looking into the street through foliage. Grey sky, orange traffic cone in the middle for some reason. Street art on an industrial wall behind the vacant lot across the road.
The coffee place is just a hole in the wall. There’s people standing round under an awning with more street art of a woman blowing rainbow bubbles. A pot plant sits on the kerb to collect rain.
My plants look almost neon green in the rain. I’ve got them all bunched up on the courtyard to collect water.
The sunset was really unusual after a weird, wet week. Pinks and purples and random white clouds.

West End Rainbow Footpath

I was taking a walk in West End after having breakfast with Tae when I discovered the old rainbow footpath in West End.

The corner of Vulture and Besant streets with the rainbow crossing visible across the road.
Me standing in front of the significantly faded rainbow sidewalk.

It’s worn down pretty badly. Reminds me of chalk drawings on the road after the rain. But it’s probably fair enough cos it was thrown together by volunteers and I guess they just used whatever paint they had.

I first stumbled on it when it was brand new back in 2017 with Joel, Tom and Shashi. This was just after I got back from Amsterdam for the first time, and I assume Shashi & Tom were visiting for xmas.

Myself, Joel, Tom & Shashi in front of a bright rainbow painted footpath. It's really something.

Not linking to the bad website, but here’s the description from the original Facebook message where Cr Sri got folks together to paint it:

This is partly a political statement, and partly just an excuse to bring a bit of colour to an old stretch of bitumen footpath at the corner of Besant St, O’Connell St and Vulture St.

If you have a bit of spare paint lying around that you can bring down to donate to the cause, post up in the comments with the colours and quantities, or just rock up on the day and lend a hand as you see fit.

It would be good to use paints that are designed for outdoor surfaces and will last a while. We’ll try to paint in segments, leaving one part of the footpath clear until the other painted areas have dried so as not to inconvenience any mobility-impaired pedestrians.

If anyone wants to bring down other things like baked goods or a bit of music to entertain the painters, that would be cool too.

Jonathan Sri, Councillor for The Gabba

It’s still visible four years later. But might need a fresh coat soon.

Flight

I was in the shower today and a low-flying plane flew past the window and startled me. Partly because I wasn’t expecting anything to be up there in that clear blue sky. But I also realised that my little escape from the continent has left me with an aversion to air travel.

Sure, airports always sucked but a trip in an aeroplane used to have this excitement of adventure about it, a chance to climb into the tube and escape from reality. But now all that conjures is masks, hazmat bags, the unforgivable malice of the person leaving their mask down over their nose. Being stranded in a foreign country as the world ends.

It was one of those little culture shocks to be back in Brisbane and see a plane flying overhead for the first time like everything’s fine. It was like a little omen, there to remind us of our hubris. They still startle me, and I didn’t know why. But perhaps now I do.

Between corona and the climate I would happily never step foot in a plane again. I don’t think that’s realistic. But it’s a feeling.

It’s a bit warm.

After a cold snap in Brisbane, we’re back to our usual summer programming. It was only 34 today, but it’s still uncomfortable to be amongst so I’ve been trying to optimise my ventilation.

It has reached the point of the day where outside is cooler than inside so now I get to open up the house.

HOWEVER the little portable aircon I bought is still running in the office. Even though it can only ever bring it down about 3 degrees, it’s still much more comfortable than sweating into my seat. I’ve been trying not to use it too often, but a little climate control is invaluable while I’m working.

This is the strategy.

Just a little thing about lockdown

It was a bit of a surprise to wake up this morning and find we’re heading into lockdown.

After developing a case of the sniffles and going for a test the night before, I’d preemptively cancelled all my weekend plans already. But it’s different when it’s official, you know?

I always joked that moving into a proper house with a yard was a reaction to living isolated in a shoe box in Amsterdam. That the next lockdown I would be stocked and ready. Turns out despite the physical preparation I still wasn’t there, mentally at least.

At work in between tickets I would check the ABC News live blog for updates. It’s a bad habit, of course there aren’t any, but in a time when we don’t know anything, even the smallest scrap of insight seemingly means something.

Part of me just wants to jump forward a couple of weeks when we know the outcome of the outbreak. Skip to the end of the book and read the last page. Do things turn out ok?

But I’m doing fine. It’s been raining, so I’m very cosy on the couch under the doona. I have a naan dough and some curry ready to go tomorrow and we’re making pizza for date night on Sunday. Everyone on Twitter is talking about the Star Trek finale, so maybe I’ll put that on now and tune out for a bit.

Break

My place seems to have regressed. My desk broke, my outdoor setting broke, and mum bought me a brand new cabinets which lives in the middle of the sitting room. There are boxes everywhere and the place looks like I’ve just moved in.

Again.

Thankfully today marks the start of a week off so I’ll have time to do all of the things I’ve been putting off lately. Starting with my tax, putting my office back together, a trip to Bunnings to sort out my yard, and a couple of nights on straddie. Oh, and I want to catch up on my vlog. Relaxing!

Things have been going well enough but I’m looking forward to having a bit of time to myself. There are plans in motion so I don’t fall so far behind in life again, but that’s fairly new so far.

Right now I should really be sleeping because it’s 2:30 and R invited me to brunch and pebble curation in the morning. Haven’t we done well.