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Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Parable of the Jigger’s Brick

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away (from where we are now), two brothers sat around a campfire discussing souvenirs for ‘The Jigger’. The Jigger (thus named for his ‘jigging’ on the willoughby – a piece of sapphire fossicking equipment) and his wife had already left the Field of Gems for the greener pastures of home and dust free environment of work. His wife had a particular fondness for the clay slurry in the bottom of the willoughby, thinking it would make the perfect mud bricks for a pizza oven… and an idea was born.

The brothers carefully filled a sieve with the clay, patted it in firmly and left it to dry. Once dry enough to turn out of the sieve a motif was designed, complete with letters formed with small pieces of ironstone (the bane of fossickers).

After much discussion as to the necessary temperature for firing a jigger’s brick, a bed of coals was prepared in the campfire, the brick (sitting on a stiff mesh) was buried, and the all important final stage began. By morning the coals had turned to ash, and the brick was removed to cool completely.

At various times during the day passersby gently blew or brushed some of the ash off. A few pieces of ironstone were dislodged, but carefully replaced to be later glued in place. The Jigger’s Brick. A perfect gift for the Jigger and his clay-loving wife.

Transport home… in the trailer with the camping gear was definitely not a good option, lest it return to the dust from whence came. In a plastic bag in the car… should be easy, right? Unfortunately…

With plastic bag in one hand a brother picked up the brick to safely wrap it for travel. It cracked – not into a multitude of small pieces, but into enough to make it unsalvageable. The immediate verdict? Next year it will contain some chicken wire for reinforcing.

The brick looked great from the outside, and had even been through a strengthening process, but without the inner strength of a different form it was unable to sustain the simple pressures of life.

Scenes from Istanbul

Friday, August 14, 2009

Welcome to Turkey!

We arrived in Istanbul yesterday after a 36 hour trip. We were pleasantly surprised by the improved quality of food (but not quantity on Swiss Air!) since we were last travelling the world. We also really enjoyed 'on demand' movies and tv programming on personal screens. It certainly made the flights seem quicker. Unfortunately the airports weren’t so exciting. Dazz got a bit arty with this photo of our reflections in the window at Hong Kong.

We don’t seem to have had any jet lag – staying up until about 10pm last night and sleeping right through, and it’s almost 10pm again tonight. We must have had just the right combination of sleep, movies, tv and caffeine!

This afternoon we went for a walk through the local twice-weekly markets. The ‘pazar’ is a highlight of Turkish life. Great fruit and veg – most of it under $3/kilo. We were offered tastings of apricots, pears, melons and plums – amazingly sweet. We’ve jumped straight back into having yoghurt with every meal and had ayran last night (a salty, watered down yoghurt drink).

Our first assignments for the semester are due tomorrow, so we’ll be busy beavers over the next few weeks, juggling marking with visiting friends, not to mention walking along the Bosphorus and taking photos…

Monday, August 3, 2009

The kayaks finally get a work out

After leaving Mum & Dad at Carnarvon Gorge we headed north to Bedford Weir (near Blackwater). We’ve had a few good kayaking experiences there in the past. Actually, Bedford Weir was where we decided to buy kayaks. We had chatted to some other campers there in 2004 and they had a double kayak. One afternoon they brought the paddles and life vests over and insisted we take their boat out to try it out. We were hooked! This time we weren’t disappointed either, as we spent a lazy afternoon in the sun, slowly paddling among the dead trees, sneaking up on birds.

Our next stop was Byfield State Forest, just north of Yeppoon. It turned into quite a social week as we ended up sharing campfires with fellow travellers most nights. Dazz managed to catch up on a few running repairs that had been added to the list over the previous weeks, we went on a few walks, saw lots of birds (including scarlet honeyeaters), and went for a drive down the coast to Emu Park.

Some of our new friends recommended the Calliope River rest area as a nice place to stop. The river was tempting, but the breeze and croc signs put us off.

A bush camp on the western side of Lake Awonga was the perfect place to finish this part of our travels. We stayed three nights and went kayaking each day. The weather was warm and still, the reflections glassy, and the scenery stunning. We paddled up tributaries lined with water lilies, watched forest kingfishers diving for little fish and rainbow bee eaters flitting in the trees, and brolgas and whistling kites fly overhead and even scared a few schools of good sized fish (presumably barramundi – no bites though!). We’ve put it on our list of places to go back to next time where up that way.

This week we’re back in Toowoomba preparing for our trip to Turkey – only a week to go! Our next blog will probably be from the other side of the world…