Vinnies

An interesting difference between The Hague and Brizzy. In The Hague I lived within walking distance from a fabric shop, in Brizzy there’s a second hand shop (Vinnies) just down the street. Upcycling for the win! Sometimes upcycling is almost more work than to start from scratch, but not this weekend. I got myself three easy projects.

I found the perfect dress to take with on upcoming diving trips: all polyester to withstand salt water and lots of sun, and nice and loose fit for ease of use. But the puffy sleeves were restricting me. Off with their cuffs and on with the flow: my rolled hem pressure foot to the rescue. Bam, done!

The trousers were a good fit. One seem at the back was torn, and fixed before it knew what happened to it. The length though, an awkward 7/8th. A quick look inside revealed the biggest hem ever made, so in a snap these were too long. How is that for awesome? Add a hem, boom, ready for my trip to Adelaide this Wednesday.

And as if Frankenshirt never happend, I bought a loose fitted blouse. A women’s blouse this time, with a revealing neckline due to a poor fit. The colour is lovely though. So out with the scissors! I used a different (single) pattern this time, no need for impromptu fixes left and right so far. No guarantees though, I haven’t actually sewn any seems. And the sleeves still pose the usual challenge.

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Discovering Straddie

We ventured off to North Stradbroke Island, or Straddie for short. It’s to Brisbane what Texel is to Amsterdam, but with more whales, sharks, rays, turtles and dolphins.  It’s about a 45 min drive and a 45 min ferry ride across the Moreton Bay. You book the ferries in advance, so you have to to guess how long you want to stay before you even get there. However, this also means they greet you by your first name when you arrive.

We weren’t sure what to expect, but wildlife is what we got. During the North Gorge Walk we saw big sea turtles, wallabies, a sting ray, no less than two groups of dolphins and quite possibly a shark in swift succession. Yay! All of that on a backdrop of beautiful beaches. And in winter this is the place to be to spot whales from land, so we’ll definitely be back!

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We also tried our first shore snorkel session at Deadman’s beach. It was pretty strenuous to cross the surf, but we got through it. Once you get the hang of it, it’s actually not that bad. However, no flora or fauna was to be seen anywhere within a comfortable distance from the shore. Fortunately, on our way back we stumbled on a group of Jacks and Snappers (somewhat like this). Maybe we should try a guided tour next time, so we know where to look.

Our interest was piqued by UniDive with their stories about the under water flora and fauna at Moreton Bay and at Point Lookout. They ran a project called Point Lookout Ecological Assessment (PLEA), where they mapped the flora and fauna at the local reefs – we even managed to get our hands on one of the last copies of their photo report “Straddie”. They’re starting up a new project called Flinders Reef Ecological Assessment (FREA), which we hope to participate in.

Frankenshirt

My first attempt at revamping a mens shirt. Always a good idea to use a shirt of really nice fabric and color for an experiment, right?

Couldn’t find any examples on-line to rehash a loose fitted shirt to a fitted shirt. Makes sense, since a fitted shirt has the armpit placed much higher up, which results in the need for more width than a non-fitted shirt typically will offer.

That’s how Frankenshirt happend, using the arm scythe of a shirt, the bodice part of a dress and free styling the bottom half of the shirt, again to match fit the available fabric. Feeling master of my universe, I decided to let the darts of the bodice just end open, to get a sort of emperor dress style.

Then came the sleeves. I didn’t want to take the cuffs apart, so I had to cut the sleeve head and trim down the sleeve width from a semi constructed sleeve. I though I used the sleeve head pattern that went with the arm scythe pattern, but I had way too much fabric. Enter the pleats. This, of course, resulted in somewhat puffed sleeves. Like princess style puff sleeves. This is becoming one royal design!

I had some fun with the collar. Decided to go mandarin style by simply removing the collar and closing up the collar stand. The result is not quite mandarin, but I kinda like it.

Anyway, the result. Could be worse I guess, but not really what I was going for. Or my style. But I’ll take it for a test drive and see if it grows on me. Or I might just pop a seam stretching too far. Who knows, life’s a gamble :).

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Things that go bump

Cycling in Brisbane, it’s quite the adventure. Don’t take my word for it, take a look at this research paper to cycling injuries in Australia. Of course you are required by law to wear your helmet. Safety first, right?! Instead of making a helmet obligatory, how about getting some bike lanes, like, everywhere (Feb 2015)! And while we’re at it, let’s change the rules and regulations as well, since “Achieving high levels of safe cycling begins with acknowledging that cycling is a legitimate form of transport” (Sept 2011). And then we don’t mean “higher fines for dodgy cyclists“. NSW, I’m talking to you (Jan, 2106).

But Australia says it wants to change. The national bicycling council aims to double the number of cyclists between 2011 and 2016, inspiring all with this H.G. Wells quote: “When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.” But double a few is still only a few cyclists. In 2001 nearly 20% of the Danes cycled to work, while only 1.2 % of the Aussies were so inclined. The report does mention a lot of good points, but unfortunately doesn’t touch the topic of regulations. Which is a pity, especially since this comes from a national council. The update from 2013 shows promising progress and good intentions, but the financial numbers show that investing in safe cycling is no priority. Australia invested $4.83 per capita on Cycling Infrastructure in 2012-13. This is only 0.61% of the total transport expenditure. And that while bold spending makes all the difference  and most Australians want the government to spend more on biking and walking facilities, according to this report.

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In my research for this post, I found a lot of information online. However, the average Joe will only consume information that is brought to him. Like Pedal Brisbane, an exhibition and event celebrating and promoting cycling in Brisbane through photography, film, talks and initiatives associated with cycling in a fun, positive way (promoFacebook). It started in 2013, I visited it 2014 and in 2015 they teamed up with APPC to become Bicycle Fringe Festival, together with the Bicycles Welcome Here Festival, presenting Brisbane as a bicycle friendly city. Instead of creating more bicycle lanes or other such novel ideas, they made another promo  – don’t bother watching this, unless you like to hear random people saying “Bicycles welcome here” for a couple of minutes. Really people, that’s not helping. Festivals like these give me the impression that Australia is not taking this seriously, but maybe I’m underestimating the bad rep cycling has with most Aussies?

There are other initiatives, like Space for cycling in Brisbane, which contacts individual council members to get bicycle lanes higher priority on the local political agenda. This leads to friendly posts in my Facebook timeline, and I hope it will lead to actual change as well.

Clearly I don’t have the answers, but I’d hope Australia can learn from other countries, like The Netherlands and Denmark in the 70’s. In the meantime I will at least contribute by reporting pot holes with Brisbane City Council. I’ve reported on the crack that brought me down and got a response that they’ve received my report. We’ll see…

And I will cycle to work of course!

Edit: with the upcoming elections, the group Space4CyclingBrisbane has made this excellent video.

Heaven

It’s interesting how close to the skin my sewing experience is to me (no pun intended). Before we left I joked that all I needed to settle in was a fabric store close by. Turns out this is truer than I knew.

Some disappointing experiences at Lincraft and the other options in the CBD left me feeling a bit out of sorts. Apparently fabric á 150 AUD / meter is a thing down here, while tracing paper is not. They buy single patterns and cut them straight out. I should have known, since they do not seem to sell sewing magazines like Burda anywhere. The Needlefruit Sewing Lounge in Paddington seemed promising online, but turned out to be just for sewing courses.

However, the lovely lady there did point me in in the direction of The Fabric Store in Fortitude Valley. This is where I finally felt at home. So much nice fabrics arranged by color and material. Mostly plain instead of busy prints, often really fun but just not me. And next to cottons they have jerseys as well, which is a rare thing in this part of the world. I got a mustard cotton and a beautiful red raw silk for the projects I have in mind, and some tracing fabric (when in Rome…). But I’ll be back for more! They are open on Sundays as well, and they are having a sale at the moment….

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Stormy night in Night Vale

Our first thunderstorm down under started building up at sundown, with the mountains as backdrop. Did I already tell you I love the view from up here? Lightning was beautiful, but I understand Australia has more spectacle to offer.

I’ve been spending my mornings on the balcony as well. After the Kiss and dark chocolates, we now also have “our” coffee cups. The more things change, the more they stay the same. But I do have (and make) more time for reading. Finished “Welcome to Night Vale”, the book from the podcast of which there will be a show in town next month. I liked the book better than the podcast. It’s just as weird but with a more defined story line and dare I say plot. It’s still Night Vale, but the book allows you to set your own pace and reflect on the ideas now and again.

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I bought this book in Brizzy, at a 50% discount. There’s plenty of bookshops to be found all around town, but unfortunately a lot of them have closing down sales. Seems like the bookshop will soon be a thing of the past here as well. Alas, I too will contribute to their downfall, with an e-reader filled to the brim with unread books…

To polo or not to polo

I’ve got my sewing machine in Brizzy! Time to make good use of it by vamping up my “uniform” a bit. I don’t really have a uniform of course, but I might take up the habit of my colleague down under of wearing Deltares polo shirts. It makes it clear to my office mates where I’m from. However, I don’t like to wear poloshirts, hence the sewing frenzy this weekend. Two down, two to go!

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Stuff, stuff, glorious stuff

Our shipment finally arrived on Thursday January 14th. It took a bit longer than the promised 10-14 days, since pick up in The Hague was on December 16th….

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Turns out that signing up for http://www.meetup.com/, the Fri-Arv-Grog (my attempt to translate vrijmibo to Aussie, but it doesn’t have the same ring to it) and even a quick chat in the elevator are pretty good ways to meet the locals.  Aussies are pretty friendly and welcoming folk, that’s for sure.

So what do you do on a cloudy, drizzly Saturday in Brisbane? Right, you sew!

Daily grind

At the end of the first week of work, I’m still trying to decide on the daily routine. The early bird here definitely catches the cooler wurm, it’s just hard to break old habits.

Spent the weekend doing a fat lot of nothing, reading my new book (http://www.welcometonightvale.com/) on the roof and making my first poached egg since chemistry class. Jaap has been more productive, working on our shoe storage solution.

Next step is to get a workout routine into the mix. My bike is still in transit and in any case I won’t be using it like I did in NL. I guess it’s the gym for me. It’s right there on the roof. Just get up and go. You can jump in the pool afterwards to cool down and enjoy the city view. Why are you still sitting on your lazy ass?

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Meeting the neighbors

Nothing like a fire alarm to get to know your neighbors. 10 year old Jasper was quite excited about the whole event, but his 12 year old sister Kayla couldn’t be bothered much. We needed to calm our nerves afterwards with a T&T. Cheers!

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