Things to do in Brissy when you’re there

Another year, another visit of my mum this time together with my sister. It was short but sweet. I had prepared a full program to show as much of the Brisbane experience as possible. So here’s my list of things to do in Brissy when you’re there.

  1. Check out West End, the coolest suburb in town. Start with a (sodium free) Kohtu at the Boundary Street markets, and meet up with some friends. If you’re lucky, you might get a birthday present, if it’s still your birthday month that is. (Thanks Leonie!)
  2. After a good night sleep and a hearty breakfast (do I hear more birthday presents? Thanks MAVS!), get yourself to the Davies Park markets, to find some groceries and the first batch of souvenirs. You might even meet some locals for a coffee (never leave home without your keep cup, you silly). Next stop is a barbie on the roof top. If you’re lucky, you imported the bestest hamburger patty there is. (Vegetarian Butcher, you are missed!) A delicious home cooked meal with produce from the markets will give you enough energy to go up Mt Coot-tha to enjoy the view by night. So many lights!
  3. By now the jetlag has settled in, so you’re ready for a serious road trip. Take a detour via mount Tambourine to get dazzled by the glow worms. On the way there you have a beautiful view of the skyline of Brisbane. But this is only a morning coffee stop, the real goal of the trip is O’Reillys at Lamington National Park. The drive up the mountain is an attraction on it’s own, but that’s only the beginning. Once you’ve arrived you can go for a bush walk in the rain forest, feed the birds and enjoy a stunning sun set with a beer in your hand. Perhaps you should take a nap during the drive home.
  4. Enough nature for now, today we traverse the city jungle. Take the City Cat to the Cube at QUT and program your own robot. If it’s good enough for the King, you might enjoy it too. Via the botanical gardens, where you can reenact somebodies interview for Dutch television, you make your way to the CBD. Here you enjoy lunch at Post Office Square food court, together with some of the hard working people from Brisbane (aka Grismar). Do not get distracted too much by the shops (more souvenirs) while moving towards the river. From here it’s an easy walk to GOMA, the museum of modern art, where you can enjoy the MARVEL exhibition. Since you’re close by, why not get your feet wet at Streets Beach on South Bank. A perfect day ends perfectly with some birthday bubbles (only if it’s still your birthday month).
  5. So much for the land life, how about the ocean in our backyard? Take the ferry to Moreton Island, where a Whale Watching tour awaits you. This is the perfect transition into the afternoon program, where we feed the fishes (involuntarily), laughing Kookaburras (beef!) and dolphins (fish, which completes the circle). Your own feed will be substandard today, but hey, you’re on a tropical island!
  6.  Today you’ll finally get wet, snorkeling on the Tangalooma wrecks. So many fishes and a wobbegong shark or two for those with a keen eye. This could be the first snorkeling experience for some, and the last for others. In any case, a memorable experience. Safely back on the main land, it’s time for a fancy birthday dinner at Billykart (only applicable if it’s still … you get the drift. Thanks dad!).
  7. Lastly, before you start the long journey home, there’s time for one last stroll down Boundary Street, to find that perfect hat at Vinnies and a last batch of souvenirs at several book stores. With a flat white under the belt, it’s time to head to the airport. And perhaps to sleep a little.

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Movie festivals and theaters

When we first arrived, it seemed the movie scene was on the decline in Brissy. That might be the case, but since then we’ve found our way to a few awesome cinemas and have become regulars at some festivals. Things ain’t that bad after all.

Recently, we’ve visited the Queensland Film Festival at New Farm Cinemas (13-23 July) and the BIFF, or Brisbane International Film Festival (17 Aug – 3 Sept), where we saw a couple of flics, each well worth your time. Thanks to the curators of both festivals and the careful further selection by Grismar.

  • Antiporno, about…, ehrm, let me get back to you on that one
  • The Endless, about cult life and brotherhood
  • Goodtime, about anything but a good time after a bank robbery
  • Nocturama, about the fine (or not so fine line) between activism and terrorism
  • The Lure, a modern fairy tale of two mermaid sisters
  • Loving Vincent, an animated movie made with more than 65,000 oil paintings
  • The Square, where high culture and animal instinct come together
  • Dave made a maze, about Dave, who made a labyrinth. (how about instead of trying to diminish it, you guys help me finish it?)
  • Manifesto, in which Cate Blanchett writes a manifest

The movie theaters we visit, somewhat in order of frequency:

  • Palace Barracks, walking distance and room for more art housey movies
  • GOMA Cinémathèque, walking distance and excellent programming, varying from the artiest of house to the complete Marvel collection. Only downside is movies show often only once and their website is hard to navigate so we miss a lot.
  • Cineplex South Banks, closest and cheapest, perfect place to see a block buster
  • New Farm Cinemas, a short bus ride away, great selection and atmosphere
  • Palace Centro, a bit further out (bus ride and short walk), but has a nice burger joint next door for dinner afterwards, and they often host festivals

Red carpet challenge

Sometimes all you need is good challenge to grow your skills and nerves. One of the lovely Brisbane Spoolettes posed the red carpet challenge: recreate a dress from the Oscars red carpet (February) for this years Frocktails (August). The idea was to make a somewhat more challenging project for a special event, stretching your skills. After going through all the dresses with the HB, there was a clear winner for me: Emma Stone in her golden flapper dress, adding a 21st century twist to this twenties gem. Now to find a pattern to use as the basis and of course the fabric. A very lucky trip to the fabric store Jan Sikkens in my hometown, together with my personal shopper and mum got me all those things. Which is a thing that never happens. Seriously.

With all these good vibes, it was time to get to business. The bodice needed to be closely fitted, so after making changes to the toile and copying those to the pattern pieces, I decided to make another toile to make sure the pattern now had just the right fit. A quick test with a pinned rectangular piece of fabric showed that the flapper part of the dress would be pretty straight forward. Of course, I broke my wrist somewhere in the process, so I had to postpone this project for 6 weeks. Good thing I started early! More details below the pics.

For the full photographic experience and the end result, go to Google Photos. Here’s a quick impression of the project:

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On to the real thing, the cutting of the fabric. Fortunately, the main fabric was very wide and I bought plenty, so I could hunt for the perfect pattern placement. Like, not getting a bare bottom print on my belly… And then the fun of pattern matching at the seams. Step by step this dress was getting together. The sewing bit was not that hard, especially since I already made the pattern twice :). I only had to redo one seem to get a better pattern matching at the zipper. Speaking of which, I was quite relieved when this actually closed. With such a close fitted pattern there’s no way of telling if it will fit until you’ve put the zipper in!

Next stop the skirt. The pattern is as easy as it gets, however to make it flap it requires you add 18 m of tassels. Straight. On a shiny fabric, which I feared would emphasize the stitches. On to the University of YouTube, where I learned to just do it and to start at the bottom. This was a disaster, crooked stitches, just a nightmare. But my lovely spoolettes came to the rescue in helping me locate EZ-Steam II on a Sunday (aka 2-sided fusible tape). A quick trip to Spotties later I got to work with the help of a drafting triangle, a long ruler and my trusty dive weights. Easy peasy lemon squeezy, but it still takes a few hours because of the 18 m.

Thanks to Ekka day (i.e. a random free Wednesday in the week before Frocktails) I even had time to spare to make a purse, since I wasn’t able to sneak some pockets into this one. And for shits and giggles I also added a twenties style headband and tassel earrings (the latter which I didn’t wear). Outfit completed. I must admit I was quite pleased with the result and had a great time at Frocktails. The dress even hold up when we went dancing afterward. Thanks Spoolettes, for keeping me on my toes.

Top part of the dress is this Burda Style Trumpet gown: http://www.burdastyle.com/…/patterns/trumpet-gown-032017
Knot bag: https://za.pinterest.com/pin/382524562086233903/

 

Out back in the outback

Every disadvantage has its advantage. I’ve been promoting this idiom among my Australian friends, and recent events have once again proven the wisdom of the one and only Johan Cruyff. Yes, bad luck led to a broken wrist and two cancelled holidays. But it also prompted my dear friend Mellini to organize a camping trip in Lamington National Park, to “give me something to look forward to”. And it allowed us to join my colleague Dave on his trip out there and back again, which turned out to be quite the adventure. So somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good….

Lamington National Park

Home of the regent bowerbird, know for their courting ritual, Lamington National Park is a paradise for bird lovers and bushwalkers alike. The drive there is beautiful, since you spend the last hour on a spiraling mountain road which offers plenty of panoramic views. After the quaint Treetop Walk it was time to enjoy the sunset and a nice glass of wine from O’Reilly’s Rainforest bar.

We went camping with a bunch of pros, so after a morning concert of the birds, a proper brekkie was served. A good foundation for a decent walk along the Box Forest Circuit, filled with waterfalls and some creek crossings. On Monday we had time for a nice and easy walk to Python Rock, from where you can marvel at the valley from a different point of view.

For the full photographic experience of Lamington Park:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/SbvKwKhMSV6DluYA2

A quick impression:

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Noorama Station, 1 hour south of Cunnamulla and 9 hours west of Brisbane

Renowned for its sheep, wool and cattle production, Noorama Station is situated in one of the most prolific pastoral regions in the country. Don’t just take my word for it, read all about it in this brochure. The current manager is Ben, a good friend from my colleague Dave. Ben asked Dave to escort him and his new bike home from Brisbane, and Dave in turn asked us to do the same for him on the way back. So off we went, on three bikes and one support car filled with a water tank, spare fuel, snacks and a one-handed lady. Thank the engineers for automatic transmission!

The trip was spectacular and the scenery amazing. But since it’s kind of hard to drive one-handed while taking pictures, you’ll mostly have to take my word for it.

Our one full day at Noorama Station was action packed from start to finish. We “helped” Ben and his team of jackaroos herd cows with a spotter plane and dirt bikes. Closer to home we “helped” Carissa and Owen take care of the chickens and vegetable garden. After a second breakfast we had a leisurely walk around the block through the bush, having a taste of saltbush along the way. By then it was time to pay our way by offering some actual help. In keeping with our expertise Jaap fixed the wifi and I sewed (made a start with) some curtains for Annabel’s room. As one does in the outback. After a long day of hard work, we took some us-time in the local spa, i.e. two hot tubs next to a warm water bore in the middle of nowhere (even relatively speaking), surrounded by trees with parrots. We were back just in time to enjoy an amazing sunset and another delicious meal by Carissa. Day well spent!

For the full photographic experience:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/I8G050NyE5h9G1qi2

Some highlights, in case you’re in a rush:

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A handy solution to a disarming problem

The puns may get me some w(r)istful looks, but after Simone took a 9-year old kamikaze pilot to the pedal bike, we’re in dire need of some light-hearted humour to lift our spirits…

DSC_1543_m

That ‘sprained’ wrist turned out to be broken. In two places, in fact, the radius and the tricky scaphoid. So that cast will stay on for six weeks minimum, and hopefully no more than that.

Of course, typing is a real pain with this whole situation, even though she’s lucky that it’s her left hand and not her right (mouse) hand. We immediately scoured the net for some easy solutions for one-handed typing, but most relied on dodgy software or text-prediction with half-assed dictionaries.

Luckily, Max Baker, back in 2008, had the same idea and scrounged up a super-useful AutoHotKey script for one-handed typing by a forum user known as ‘mbirth’. I have found AutoHotKey to be one of the most generally useful pieces of utility-software on the planet anyway, and it did not disappoint on this account either.

The script causes keys on the keyboard to be mirrored onto the same position on the other hand (if you’re a standard blind-typist).

Max needed something for the left hand (a nice solution if you don’t want to let go of your mouse), but of course Simone needed a right-handed solution. The script is well-written though, so it was as easy as flipping the original and mirrored key definitions around. I then figured a one-size-fits-all solution would include both left and right hand and would just flip the whole keyboard.

I like Max’ suggestion of flipping the key caps, but it’s less practical on a laptop, so a few dollars spent at a news agent and a Sharpie-scribbling session later, we managed to get around the problem of remembering key positions as well.

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Problem. Solved.

(whole solution for download here, if you need it – get AutoHotKey from their own site)

Melbourne – a long weekend

(Photo’s will be added later, for now all I have is the amazing video of the seals by J.)

It’s been a long while since my first visit to Melbourne, but last weekend I finally got to share all my favorite spots with J. Time for a city trip (in combination with a work trip, we’ve got to stay sensible after all). Even though I had planned to do a whole lot of nothing, combined with a whole lot of eating, it turns out we’re really bad at doing nothing. So busy schedule ahead!

Friday, we arrived in the arvo to a cloudy and wet Melbourne. After lunch at Purple Peanut we walked over to Victoria’s market. More importantly however was dinner, which was had at the Vegie bar, my favourite restaurant in town. With that item checked on my list, the weekend is already officially a success!

Saturday, it was time to discover all a sunny Brunswick Street has to offer, which turned out to be a fab brekkie at Smith & Daughters, lots of shopping, coffee and a footy game between Fitzroy and some other team. We managed to work out most of the rules from watching them for a while. For the evening program, we diverted to Carlton for a movie (Colossal) and Italian dinner at Lygon Street.

Sunday we reconnected with nature (and because we’re still in Australia, we got some car-time in as well). In the morning we went swimming with the seals, together with Marlon and MJ from WaterMaarq, from the tip of Mornington Peninsula. It. Was. The. Best. This was high on my bucket list, and rightfully so. We were quite lucky with the beautiful weather and a private trip with WaterMaarq, who normally have up to 6 guests on board. J. shot some fab footage (video below runs for 12m50s). To top it off, MJ did some excellent captaining on the way back, enticing the local dolphins to come by and say hello. I forgot to fall in the water, so no swimming with them though.

After that, the plan was to discover Phillip Island before joining the penguin parade, since the island seemed pretty close by. However, water. So, the planned bush-walking had to make way for another two hour drive around Western Port Bay.  The parade was, what can I say… The penguins are super cute! Really wonderful to see them splashing about in the water and making their little parade across the sand. But also, so many humans, being humans.

Monday is road trip day. Of course we set course for the Great Ocean Road. After the usual trip to get at the start (everything fun “in Melbourne” seems to be about a 2 hour drive away), we started the day with some proper chocolate and coffee. With that, we were ready for some awesome views, some of them I enjoyed doggy style (head out of the window with my hair in the air like I just don’t care, what did you think?). We also made time for some off the road fun with Erskine falls and my first ever tree top walk in the Otway National Park. On the way back we got caught in the mother of all rainstorms, so we found our way to the shoulder of the highway, and waited it out. When you’re not driving, a good rain and nearby thunder can be fun. This was only a temporary inconvenience, so we made it in time for our reservation at the fancy Transformers in Fitzroy. First time I managed to get a booking in here. It’s a beautiful place, where I got to show of my new bling. We chose the Feed Me menu, where the chef decides what you eat. It was delish, however I do feel you would be better off making your own selection. Next time!

Tuesday we got our portion of culture at the Melbourne Museum and the National Gallery of Victoria. We also tried to go see Guardians of the Galaxy 2, but apparently everybody else in town also decided to end Anzac day in the cinema. So instead we got takeaway Indian and had a quiet night in the airbnb. Which is a nice way of saying I went to bed early :).

The rest of the week was work-work-work, with three days of Delft-FEWS user days. But that my lovelies, is a story for another time.

Going home, twice

Even when you’re sure you don’t want to fold yourself into an airplane to burn some additional fossil fuels, apparently you can find yourself back home in Europe before you know it. What followed was an action-packed rollercoaster of sleeplessness. Oh jet-lag, how I’ve missed you!

Being back in the Netherlands felt very weird for the first 30 minutes. But with my OV-chipknip still activated, the transition was quite seamless. Although I did notice the people were taller than I’m used to. I might have even felt short here and there…. And also, cycling on actual bicycle lanes, with loads of other cyclists, and motorists who behave. Such a delight! But my fears of annoyed people everywhere, getting angry about the smallest of things was quite mistaken. Queenslanders might be known to be very relaxed, but the Dutch aren’t so bad either ;).

Work was non-stop chatting with colleagues, catching up on all things work you don’t hear about via email (pro-tip: that’s a lot). Family and friends time was filled with hugs, chatting, musea, Vegetarian Butcher nomnoms and Christmas dinner. And birthdays, both belated birthday presents as well as an actual birthday cake. And sewing, there’s always time for sewing :).

After a wonderful two weeks, the plane back to Brizzy felt like a trip back home as well. I made it back just in time for the New Years Eve fireworks and the sweltering summer heat. And also the reunion with Jaap wasn’t too bad :). There’s no place like home, I’m fortunate enough to count two places as my home.

Below follows a recap in pictures. A picture says more than a thousand words. so a lot of pictures tell a long story. You’d better get comfortable first :). #LookBeforeYouLeap #BezintEerGijBegint

 

The central thread of the trip was the TimTam challenge. This typical Australian treat should be used briefly as a tea-straw, making the inside a delicious warm chocolatety goo, which will be a party in your mouth. People were skeptical at first, but try they all did. Afterwards all but one were convinced this is truly the best way to eat a TimTam.

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End of the year means performances by both niece and nephew and a dance class of sis where I could join in. Funfun.

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Enjoying the nomnoms from the Vegetarian Butcher while I can!

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Teylers museum, the oldest museum of the Netherlands located in Haarlem, got visited twice. Once on the day they were expecting the 100.000th visitor and once for a tour in the library together with the in-laws.

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Mum took me to the very impressive Feathers exhibition in Volkenkundig museum in Leiden. So much I did now know about the traditions of feathers, and the cultures who use them to signal position and status. To know about the past, puts current day haute couture in a different light.

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This year I could join the office Christmas Carolers, without being able to participate in any of the rehearsals. Good thing I remembered most songs from previous years :). The only disappointing bit was that in my absence they removed the hand gestures and little dance moves. That didn’t stop me from having some fun though! #WhereIsTheParty? #HereIsTheParty! #DontJustLookAtYourPaper

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I spent most of my time in Haarlem and Delft, but couldn’t resist checking out our neighborhood in The Hague, and to admire the new metro station at Den Haag Centraal.

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Birthday time. Some present where seriously overdue, others where exactly on time.

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The birthday girl wanted to visit the Store Wars exhibition in Hoorn, good for some old fashioned fun.

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The two fish of the family enjoyed a morning in the pool

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And the rest of the time was filled with family and friends. And of course lots of food and matching beanies.

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