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Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

smallglowYesterday we awoke to find Sydney bathed in a seriously eerie orange glow. Gale force winds had blown this dusty soup in from the west of our state. The day before, despite little water, this dirt had been trying really hard to grow our vegetables, so this colourful gift from mother nature pleased neither us nor our farmers. It was estimated that about 4000 tons of top-soil sprinkled down on Sydney alone and caused much mayhem as it did so. Planes and ferries were all cancelled, air-conditioners blocked up and many asthma sufferers rang 000 (our emergency number) to report severe breathing troubles. Even indoors you could smell and taste the dust and today the big clean up begins. Yes everything is covered in a red haze.

I took these photos in our street at about 7.00am and they show precisely what it was like yesterday morning. The last dust storm like this to hit Sydney, was back in 1939. As I pulled open Rodent Boy’s curtains and let the weird orange glow wash over his room, he leapt to his window, and noticeably struggled to make sense of this once in a lifetime event. In response to the inevitable “What the..?” I teased him it was ‘the revenge of the Rangas!’ Rangas is an Australian colloquialism for red-headed people, short for Orangutans. For a second he believed me.

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If you’d like to see more pics taken by other people in Sydney click here

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Working Mum will be pleased… I actually remembered to get the washing in this afternoon before the refreshing Spring shower came tumbling down. Taking the dry clean linen straight upstairs, I then made the bed. This tiresome chore took me much longer today as I insisted on carefully scrutinising every spec of dust I came across. A friend of ours is in hospital at the moment having simply put her clean sheets on the bed and jumped in. The following morning she awoke to find her eye as big as a tennis ball… oh alright… a golf ball. Anyway, to cut a long story short, a tick had set up residence in her eye. It was touch and go whether she’d lose her sight, but it looks like she’ll be okay.

A timely reminder (like I needed one) that with the return of the warm sunny weather, our little nasties are back too. Spring has well and truly sprung here, and suddenly the trees are all wonderfully green again. Congregating in bunches of optimism, the tender new leaves remind me of groups of school children in neatly pressed uniforms on their first day. [Is that poetic or just weird? Probably the latter… Anyhow…]

Through the Winter in Sydney, you barely see an insect, but as the weather warms up and the days get longer, back they come in their squillions. Spiders, ants, flies, cockroaches, wasps, ticks, fleas and of course mosquitoes, all hell bent on invading my personal space and limiting our enjoyment of the outdoor life we’re famous for.

Sydney is a wonderful city but even after twenty years, I am still coming to grips with sharing it with such annoying and toxic neighbours, (and I’m not referring to Greg and Sue over the back). Growing up in England, the nastiest thing you might encounter when racing through your back garden or the countryside, was stinging nettles or a grumpy badger. Here though, you might run into all kinds of venomous flora and fauna, not least some very unfriendly snakes. While these are not that common in suburbia, I did pull a drowned juvenile brown snake out of our swimming pool last year.

Much more likely however is to see a Funnel Web or a Redback spider in your garden, a White Tail spider in your mailbox, or a Huntsman spider in your kitchen. While the latter two arachnids will make you ill, they aren’t overly dangerous but the first two can be lethal. To keep it in perspective though, while many people have been bitten then treated with antivenom, there have only been twenty six recorded deaths in Australia in the last hundred years from Funnel Webs and no-one has died from Red Back bite in over fifty years. We’ve learned to live with them I guess, for example, we never leave our shoes outside overnight. Trivia fact #276 Although one of the top three most toxic spiders in the world to us, the venom of the Sydney Funnel Web is totally harmless to cats and dogs. Strange but true.

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