Big Question Marks

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Shhh... don't tell anyone, but we're kind of hooked on a slightly nerdy board game.

We blame our pal Tim, who gave Settlers of Catan as a gift to his wife Fleur's family for Christmas. They all started playing and couldn't stop. Then Adrian arrived in Oz and stayed at their house for a week in February, and played Catan all week. Instant convert.

Dayle was a little more skeptical - only slightly - but in less than the time it takes to play a game (like an hour or two), she was a Catan junkie as well. Soon there were many Settlers of Catan afternoons and evenings happening between the four of us, meanwhile we probably should have been out enjoying the beach, or strolling through the eucalyptus forests. (But whatever! We didn't come back to Oz for beach or exotic trees... right?) And then our friends (and now housemates) Megan and Justin came to visit, and we spread the Catan love to them too (and have since hooked their friends). It's like a disease or something!

Rufus the cat and Fleur face off
So, in case you're looking for a new pastime, and going to the movies/watching sports/going bowling just isn't doing it for you anymore, we'd have to say it's time to check out Settlers of Catan. It's nerdy enough that we had to buy ours in Mind Games, that store that's filled with Magic Cards and stuff. But it's also really fun! It's something like Risk, in that you need to expand your empire turn by turn, but it's a little like Monopoly where you build houses and hotels (well, settlements and cities, but close enough) once you collect enough "resources". There's a lot of strategy and a lot of trading and shifty deals happening. And did we mention it can get pretty nasty?

Anyway, it seems there are others out there like us - Tim has discovered there's a somewhat-secret Catan club at his workplace! And when Adrian discovered and downloaded the iPhone game for Catan, it was the best $5 he'd ever spent. No more boredom on 2-hour train rides, laundromat waits, or evenings when there's nothing on TV. We think you should check it out, if you haven't already....

Rufus contemplates his next move

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Checking out Brisbane

View to Brisbane city from South Bank
Hello, Brisbane! Yes, we've made the move up north to Brissie, Brisvegas, Brisneyland, whatever you want to call it (we're still wondering exactly why Brisbane has so many damn nicknames!) and we're settling into life in the city.

It's a pretty nice place, with lots of nice people. It definitely doesn't have that work-work-work attitude of Sydney (so we hear), and it's got a great climate -- hence why we keep meeting ex-Melburnians who moved up here after deciding it was a little cold for them down south.

Yarrrrr, possums!
Sadly, it doesn't have the gorgeousness and grandeur of Sydney and its harbour, and it's minus the cafe culture, the fascinating little alleyways and the old buildings of Melbourne too, but as we explore the city bit by bit, we're finding we like it more all the time. There's heaps of beautiful plants everywhere, for one, thanks to the subtropical climate, and we are both madly in love with the typical Queenslander home: generally a big wooden house on stilts (designed to let the air flow underneath cool the inside) with a huge verandah, and often, really cool stained-glass windows for accent, and feels a bit like it would fit in in the Deep South of the U.S. There's also something of a wild feeling to the city -- nearly every wander our residential neighbourhood has found brush turkeys running around. And they're crazy! (And having poultry running loose in the city will forever make us think of Asia.) And the possums.... which are really cute, but I have a wee bit of hatred for after one devoured my basil plant leaf by leaf on our back patio one evening.
We heart Queenslanders!
But it is nice waking up to the sounds of bird calls (reminds us of our camping days!) while living a ten-minute walk from the Brisbane River, which cuts through the centre of the city. And we do love that there are parks everywhere -- how very... English? So perhaps we just haven't been here long enough, but we're finding it very hard to put our fingers on exactly what Brisbane is all about. It's certainly a weird mix of places we've been, and it's unique in that way for sure. Nothing stands out as overly spectacular, but at the same time, it's all very lovely. While we're still stumped as to what to put on a tourist's must-see list of the city, we do like that we're always stumbling upon pretty buildings and scenic vistas, and for that reason, we'll just keep our eyes open and keep on observing our new home.