The Spring is Sprung

Daffodils in bud
Daffodils in bud

Dare I hazard that Spring is quietly creeping around the place, sneaking a look at what she can expect if she makes a commitment to actually arriving? Friends say I am mad, that we could still suffer a rapid drop in temperatures with attendant snow, wind and rain – let alone the dreaded BLACK ICE! I, however, favour the more optimistic version and point in the direction of the daffodils that have actually been in bud for a couple of weeks now and which are forging ahead in the otherwise naked gardens.

White japonica with spring growth
White japonica with spring growth

And yesterday I caught a glimpse of snow-drops as I walked past a house with a ‘green’ garden. That is, one planted with small buxus hedges, well-trimmed ever-green shrubs, palms and topiary. There was  a simple, winding gravel path leading eventually to the front door, each curve giving access to the plants situated further back in the beds and all enclosed in beautifully trimmed leafy hedges about 4 ft high. I love gardens that look like this – so controlled.  (or is it ‘contained’?)This garden was tiny by most standards, but it was loaded with impact, purely because of that control (containment) and because of the obvious care that had gone into its design and maintenance. Various shades of green played the part of absent colours, providing the dynamics of contrast – of light and shade, of cool and warm and of rough and smooth. The snow-drops added the final touch.

Japonica with spring growth
Japonica with spring growth

Around us, though, new buds are popping all over the place and it was fun freezing my hands off taking photos of a few of them.

The lake is also looking pretty damn good and I am adding three pics showing how different it is without the 5 shades of grey. (see my blog: Winter- The Final Frontier).This is for Lloyd.

The Canada Geese are back.
The Canada Geese are back.

The Canada Geese are starting to come back, just to upset me. I spotted a pair yesterday, grubbing around in the grass at the edge of the lake.  Noisy, dirty and aggressive  individuals they are, too. When the weather gets better and they all arrive to nest we will be greeted by bird s##t all over the paths and roads and appalling noise every morning as the sun rises. I am sorry to say, that once the fluffy stage is over, there is little to recommend these honkers except perhaps the part they played in the Saatchi and Saatchi ads persuading us all to ‘work as a team’. (Talk about social engineering!  And they do look very elegant when flying in formation as long as they keep their beaks shut!

Finally – because I was a bit of a slouch and did not post this when I wrote it, I have indeed been beaten by the snow!  It arrived this morning – light and fluffy and not too difficult to contend with.  Just as well too, as today, we picked up my new car!

And finally, finally, a few lines that I first read over 50 years ago and which I have cherished and chuckled over ever since.

The spring is sprung,

The grass is riz,

I wonder where dem boidies is?

The little boids is on the wing.

Why, dat’s absoid –

The little wings is on the boid!


The Sunshine Coast – Budrum and Birds

The view from Budrum Mountain.

Well, it is now well into January and my promise to myself to write a little about  Australia each day has been lost to the wind, so here are a few notes, – post-holiday- of the memorable time we had.

A most enjoyable family Christmas and New Year, came and went.  My cousin’s daughter flew off to Shanghai to begin a new job there and M and I drove to Budrum and Maroochydore to farewell the rest of the family.  The Sunshine Coast, as opposed to the Gold Coast, is further North.   The atmosphere seems quieter, less brassy and commercialised than Surfers Paradise.  The sea is just as sparkly and blue and the sands are the same pristine white,  but there are fewer high-rises and the cafes and bars are host to a slightly older crowd, more families with babies and retired folk, squeezing out a bit more warmth in their lives before it is too late.

Lush gardens in Montville

The vegetation is even more lush than further south and the countryside is heavy  with languid palms,  native eucalypts,  sculptured  ficus and old camphor laurel trees (the ones that explode in bush fires because of their oil content).  Budrum is on a plateau and benefits from its added height, as cool breezes float up from the sea, making life a little more bearable when the sun is at its hottest.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos join us for drinks!

Crows screech violently with old-men’s hacking voices each morning from  around dawn at four o’clock.  Occasionally the  liquid chimes of a butcher bird interrupt them, putting them to shame, then the purring chirp of the doves, slightly harsher than their English counterparts but just as insistent, come floating through the air.  Birds are full- time in Budrum  and in the past I have stayed on the other side of the hill, where sulphur-crested cockatoos, rosellas, galahs, butcher birds and a myriad of others would come and feed on the veranda each evening,  joining us for drinks.

The Glass House Mountains



We  drove up into the Blackall Ranges,  where we had wonderful views of the surrounding countryside and  the Glass House Mountains  (named by Captain Cook in 1770 because of their resemblance to the glass-making furnaces in his home town of Whitby in Yorkshire) We drove then, to the other side of the range and looked East, back over the plains to the Pacific ocean in the distance.  It was surprisingly cold, notwithstanding the summer. Facing East, a chill wind whipping around us, made us wish for sweaters, but we just had to live with the ‘goose-bumps’, intrepid travellers that we are.  Recognition of the appalling immensity of the Australian continent begins to register here, the understanding that however vast this particular aspect is, it is only the beginning of this vast sprawl of land. It is a difficult and uncomfortable concept for one raised on a small island!

Hazelnut - Yum!

We finished our trip in the charming village of Montville, home of the “world famous in Australia” Poets Cafe.  This is a tourists paradise, with cute shops selling the usual over-priced tat and an ice-cream stand selling the biggest single-scoop ice-creams we had seen for years.  Another great day!