Monday, April 25, 2011

Easy and difficult

My dad is away from the Island at the moment and his car needs some work.  It’s the sort of thing that would be a bit of a nightmare to arrange if we lived in Sydney.  Dropping some one else’s car to a mechanic requires careful planning when you have a baby, a toddler and two baby seats in the car. 

It’s easy at Lord Howe.  I ran into Duane, the mechanic, and he told me that the parts for the car had arrived.  We arranged that he’d get a lift to Ed’s house, let himself into the garage (it isn’t locked) and take the car.  In the old days, everyone left their car keys in the ignition.  Modern cars beep if you leave the key in the ignition (and after a while, the battery goes flat), so you need to put the key on a string and hang it off the indicator.  Here’s a photo of this handy contraption:

Luke and I ran into Duane again a couple of days later at the beach.  He’d finished the work.  Would we mind dropping into his place and taking the car home?  Too easy! 

There are some things that are really difficult at Lord Howe – like buying a new light globe for my bedside light.  Impossible! 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hiring staff

In my old life, I was a lawyer specialising in employment and industrial relations.  When we moved to Lord Howe, I knew that it was not the best training for a new career in hospitality - but at least I would be able to handle the staff issues - right?  Wrong! 

The first waiter I hired lasted exactly 3 days.  The second person I employed was a kitchen hand.  It's a pretty horrible job - and the pay is lousy too.  You can't be too fussy.  There was only one applicant and I offered him the job.  He muttered under his breath a lot and we put him on the plane back to Sydney before Christmas. 

Most people don't send a photo with their CV.  This causes a bit of a dilemma - I don't like to ask for a photo, but I need to know if he or she is presentable and I can’t always interview in person.  I have had some success with checking Facebook for tattoos and piercings.  One applicant didn't have a Facebook page, but I Googled him and found this in a local paper: "A teenager allegedly threatened to kill his de facto partner, her six-year-old child or himself before a seven-hour siege at Buddina on Tuesday".  Didn't go ahead with that one... perhaps I'm learning. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Where has the week gone?

We’ve been back at Lord Howe for almost a week now.  I knew that coming home was going to be busy, but it’s been out of control.  Most of my time seems to be spent eating things straight out of the fridge, feeding little Pixie, tripping over Elsie’s toys which I really should put away, noticing that the TV remote is covered in breast milk (but not doing anything about it) and emptying the nappy bucket.  The list of things I haven’t done is growing by the minute.      

The community nurse, Karen, came to visit this morning to see how we are getting along.  Karen looks after the little babies and the old people and she’s bright, bubbly and very motherly.  She brought a folder of materials about breastfeeding, sleep and sibling rivalry, but instead we talked about my mum’s death last year.  Karen wasn’t on the Island when my mum died, but she lent me a nursing textbook about palliative care.  It was such a thoughtful thing to do.  We talked about Karen’s two daughters and about birth, babies, happiness, life and death.  We both had a cry. 

One of the best things about living somewhere like Lord Howe is that expert nursing advice comes with free therapy. Karen’s coming to visit again next week.  

Here are some photos of the Lagoon Beach – just perfect today!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Kim's Lookout

Lord Howe has some amazing walks. One of the best is the short climb to Kim's Lookout. After 40 minutes of climbing through shady sub-tropical forest, you emerge on the top of a 200m vertical cliff. To the south is the entire Lord Howe Island lagoon with its spectacular shades of blue, and two of the most dramatic mountains in Australia. We often see the "Pixie Rourke" on its final approach over Rabbit Island, and the bright red Qantas tail is absolutely dwarfed by the scale of the mountains.

To the north is the most amazing cobalt blue ocean and thousands of seabirds that nest in the cliff caves. The scene could be straight from a David Attenborough documentary. In fact it was. He once wrote that Lord Howe is “so extraordinary it is almost unbelievable.”

We often climb to Kim's lookout in our break (you can tell we're new to hospitality because we love afternoons off to do things)! Elsie sits on Luke's back and says "up Dada, up Dada" and whinges when he stops for a break. No need for boot camp trainers in our family! Long before Elsie could talk, she learnt to say "WOW" every time she got a glimpse of the view. She'll be a camera nerd like her Dad.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Christmas decorations

My friends have a great tradition at Christmas.  We don't buy each other presents - and we don't buy presents for each other's kids.  Instead, we give small Christmas decorations.  I now have a collection of lovely things to hang on the tree.  My dad has been putting my mail into an Express Post envelope and sending it to me in Sydney.  Today, I received some beautiful red origami stars from my friend Katie. 

On Lord Howe, our letters arrive by plane.  It's a reasonably reliable service - although the mail is the first thing to be offloaded if there's too much weight on the plane.  Any parcels come by ship.  The ship, the MV Island Trader, comes every fortnight from Port Macquarie. 

It's April and Christmas is well and truly over.  I think Katie's decorations were held up somewhere.  But she's much more organised than me - perhaps they are for Christmas 2011? 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Daylight saving

Daylight saving ends today and our clocks go back an hour at bedtime.  Simple, right?  Not really...  At Lord Howe, the clocks only go back half an hour.  This means that in winter, Lord Howe time is half an hour ahead of Sydney time.  In summer, Lord Howe time is the same as Sydney time.  We're half an hour ahead for half of the year.  Sounds like the classic committee decision, doesn't it?  

The time difference causes endless confusion for visitors.  In summer, the flight time is one hour and fifty minutes.  In winter the time difference means that the flight from Sydney to Lord Howe takes two hours and twenty minutes, but the return flight only takes an hour and twenty minutes.  It's slightly strange to turn on the radio in the morning and listen to the 6:00 news at 6:30.  Especially when the newspapers are often a day or two out of date.