sarahblack: (Haaapppeee Audrey)
[personal profile] sarahblack
There really is nothing quite like staying with my grandmother and Lindsay in their house in the Middle Of Nowhere, Australia.

You never know when some interesting animal might decide to pop over for a visit. My grandmother likes to feed the goana lizards that live in the neighbourhood, and they will come up to the porch and practically eat right from out of her hand.

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Spiders, roaches, centipedes and enormous moths (I genuinely thought I was seeing a bat the first time I saw those creatures) sometimes wander inside the house, enticed by the light and the warmth. At night it can be quite cold, so these creatures are usually skulking around the house early in the morning. Þorri has been very brave, spraying them with insecticide as if he's never done anything else his whole life. I like observing the really big spiders. When they are undisturbed they move very slowly and deliberately - often not moving at all. When you surprise them they scuttle around like mad!

If you're lucky you will see geckos hunting little moths on the outside of the bathroom window as you brush your teeth at night. They're not terrible good at it, but sometimes you see them catch their prize. Then you can observe them happily munching away for a while.

You must be very careful when you open the sliding door on one side of the house. Frogs like to live in the tiny space between the wall and the door, and when you open it they sometimes fall on your head! It happened to me when I was innocently going about the business of cleaning some windows.

If you find yourself out and about around sunset, you are likely to spot kangaroos. We saw a few the other day when we were driving into town where we were invited to dinner. It's important to drive carefully at this time of day. Those who don't leave dead kangaroos as evidence behind them on the road.

When you take laundry outside to dry you can expect it the clothes to be completely moisture-free by the time you want to hang up the next load. My grandmother says she doesn't like to leave laundry hanging too long if she can help it - the colours can get bleached by the sun! The weather is perfect for drying clothes as it is generally hot and dry, with a breeze. It's been 25 - 32°C for the most part. But as I already mentioned, it occasionally becomes rather colder in the night. When summer arrives the temperatures will rise.

In the evenings, before dinner, a glass of bubbly with some strawberries thrown in is not an uncommon sight. (Beers, or even glasses of Gin and Tonic can sometimes be spotted by the keen observer.)

Avid readers will find themselves in paradise. Books full of murder mysteries, politics, history, Australian wildlife, Icelandic geography, famous literature, short stories, poetry, photographs and anything you could possibly want to read about, abound.

Would-be farmers would be happy here. Last week we were invited to go with Lindsay to the University of Sydney Plant Breeding Institute to observe the annual Field Day. This consisted of eating delicious barbecued food and looking at a lot of wheat. We heard Lindsay give a talk on the history of the different wheat species that the University of Sydney has been involved in breeding, and heard about a lot of different research projects that Ph.D. students are working on. Wheat is being made to need less water, resist disease, resist heat, become more nutritious and generally do whatever we want it to do. It's fascinating!

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On Saturdays a market springs up alongside the river in Narrabri - perfect for bargain-hunters. This weekend Þorri and I went with my grandmother to have a look. There was a man with an ice cream machine! He put scoops of vanilla ice cream inside, along with a scoop of raspberries or strawberries or whatever kind of berry that you wanted, and out of the machine came perfect berry flavoured soft serve ice cream! I want one of those machines.

I bought honey from a nice lady who first tried to get me to taste all the different kinds of honey she had for sale, and Þorri bought a lovely straw hat. (No-one tried to make him taste all the hats first.) My grandmother bought some beautiful flowers.

Life in the country is definitely something special. Plenty of animals and plants to keep you company, books to read, naps to take, bubbly to drink and all kinds of activities to keep you occupied.

For example, tomorrow me and Þorri have been invited to see the cotton crops get planted. I've never seen anything like that. (Iceland is not exactly famous for its agriculture.) Apparently there will be huge machines involved. I just hope my hey fever doesn't give me too much trouble.
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Sarah Black

March 2015

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