Wednesday, January 30, 2008
My Carnivorous Dad
It is always a problem when Dad gets near a good steakhouse, and Wolfie's is an exceptionally good one. While Mum and I ordered a small steak, Dad went for the pork ribs. Now Wolfie's pork ribs are not what you could call a small meal. In fact, it was a bit embarrassing the way that all heads in the place turned to see who was the customer as the waiter carried the plate out. Was Dad embarrassed? Not on your Nelly! His eyes lit up and he reached for the salt and pepper (Dad is an auto-condimenter from way back). Now there is no way you can eat pork ribs with a knife and fork. The knife is useful to cut the ribs apart but the only way to get the meat off is to pick up the bone and gnaw. Despite the size of the rack of ribs and the fact that they were covering a mountain of chips there was not much left on the plate except bones when Dad had finished. He didn't do the lot, even he has limits, but everybody in Wolfie's was impressed. I think there must be a lot of bear in Dad's ancestry, he certainly looked like he was stocking up before hibernation.
Dinner at Wolfie's
We went to Sydney last weekend. It was the Australia Day long weekend, but these oldies of mine hadn't realized that when they made the bookings. They went there to see a show, "Billy Elliot", about a boy who wanted to be a ballet dancer! Small bears have far more realistic ambitions. Mum also wanted to see the exhibition about Princess Di. I liked that one. Anyhow, because they were at the theatre they missed the fireworks, serves them right. Scruffy and I were left in the hotel room and we saw some of the fireworks through the window. On Sunday evening we had dinner at a real beaut place called Wolfie's. Wolfie's is at the Rocks, right on Sydney Cove, just around from my friend Captain Cook's office. We sat at a table where we could see the Bridge, the Opera House and all of the interesting boats and people that went past. Mum even let me share some of her wine and cocktail; after all I am over 5 years old now and that is quite old for a bear like me. Actually, I didn't like the drinks much so let Mum have most of them.
Here's the Swapped Bits
So where are the clock and the chandelier that the Luxor obelisk was swapped for? They are in Cairo, at the Muhammed Ali Mosque. The oldies went there as well. Actually, there is a bit of doubt about the chandelier. The oldies' guide said it was part of the deal but it is not mentioned in most references I have dug up. Anyhow, the Mosque is a spectacular bit of architecture. It was built between 1824 and 1865 and is also known as the Alabaster Mosque because it uses a lot of that beautiful creamy stone. Unfortunately the Cairo smog has discoloured the outside a lot, but it is still really pretty. The clock is outside in the courtyard of the Mosque. It is in an iron tower which has a tea pavilion at the top. It looks great, but the French king definitely got the better end of the swap because the clock has never worked! Dad really liked visiting this place because it is inside the fortress built by one of his heroes, Saladin. Most of the fortress walls and towers are still there. It is really mean of the oldies to go traipsing off to places like this without me.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Here's the Missing Bit !
Guess what this spikey thing is? It is the missing obelisk from the temple at Luxor. Way back in 1835 the King of Egypt swapped it with the King of France for a big chandelier and a clock. I will show you where they ended up later. The obelisk is right in the centre of the Place de la Concorde in Paris. This is where lots of people had their heads chopped off during the French Revolution. Nobody has their heads chopped off there now, but lots of people get married there. Mum amazed a French tour guide one night by reading some of the heiroglyphs on the obelisk for him. I guess he didn't know that some Mums and small bears can read things like that. Next time these oldies of mine go to places like this they can take me along and book me through customs as livestock. I need to be there to help.
Is This Temple Missing Something?
The oldies visited a heap of old temples while they were in Egypt. This one is at Luxor. It is one of the largest ones that tourists can visit. The walls by the gates are 24 meters high. Most of what is in the picture was built by Ramses II and the walls have lots of carvings and heiroglyphs telling about his victories. Naturally, the statues by the gateway are of Ramses; it seems that he put statues of himself in most places in Egypt. There were more statues of him by the gate but they have been taken away to museums all around the world. The big spikey thing on the left of the gateway is called an obelisk. You find these all over Egypt as well. If you think it is strange to have an obelisk and a statue on one side of the gate and a statue but no obelisk on the other side, you are right. There used to be an obelisk on each side, but one of the modern kings of Egypt gave it away. Sadly, there are no statues or carvings of small bears in Egyptian temples.
Monday, January 14, 2008
Cute Boats on the Nile
The oldies went way up the Nile on their trip. One of the nicest places they stayed was called Aswan. The desert comes almost right down to the river banks there but there are lots of trees and farms as well. At Aswan the Nile splits into a couple of channels, there are some big islands with ancient temples on them, and the river is full of boats of all kinds. These sailboats are called feluccas and they are a really old design that hasn't changed much since the time of the Pharaohs. They usually don't have any engines, they just use the wind to go upriver and let the current take them back downriver. I guess it's lucky that the wind in Egypt blows upriver just about every day. I think feluccas are really cute boats and I would like to have one of my own if they are built in the right size for small bears.
The Safe Way to See Crabs
Did I mention that I don't like crabs? Actually I totally detest the scuttling, clicking, pinching, scary little pests. But they are kind of interesting. After all, you should know your enemy. So how does a small bear go about studying crabs? That's right, draft Dad as camel and get him to take you out into enemy territory. So here we are out on the mudflats at Bateman's Bay at low tide. All of the little purple dots are crabs. Soldier crabs in fact. These guys stay in their burrows while the tide is high, but as soon as it drops they pour out of their burrows and go scuttling across the mud and sand eating everything they can find. Don't worry about Dad. He is a lot bigger than these crabs and his feet could mulch a dozen at a stomp if the crabs were silly enough to let him. But guess what; the crabs are scared of anything bigger than them and dig into the mud really quick when we get close. It's great fun for me to be scaring them for a change.
Sunday, January 06, 2008
What a House!!
One of the places that the oldies visited was this great house. It is the Chateau de Chenonceau and was obviously built by somebody who had the same tastes in houses as small bears do. It has been here on the river Cher in France since 1513 and has fantastic gardens all around it. It is so old that the tiles on the floors are so worn away by thousands of feet that they (the tiles) are worn hollow. Imagine a house across a river! You could go fishing without ever having to go outside, just drop a line from your window. Drawbridges at both ends so you can keep unwanted visitors away. Steps down to little docks where boats are tied up waiting. I would love to live in a place like this. Of course Mum would be extra tough trying to stop me from falling into the river, but that might mean that I would have to be taught to swim. Actually, there are no records of small bears at Chenonceau, but as there were lots of famous French ladies that lived here over the centuries I reckon there must have been a few. Dad says that there used to be big fierce bears in the forests around the chateau but there aren't any there now.
Mum and I have been making shabtis. Shabtis are important things because they save you having to do any work at all in the afterlife, or so the ancient Egyptians say. The idea is that you make lots of little models of yourself and take them into your tomb with you. Then when the Gods call for you to help out with any of the big projects that Gods are so keen on, you send your shabtis to do the work and you stay comfortably in your hammock drinking beer and eating ice-cream. That sounds like a great idea to me. We are making our shabtis out of some goo called "Sculpey". This is like thick mud that you press and cut into shape, then cook in the oven and it comes out hard like rock. And the best thing is that shabtis don't have to look exactly like their owner. I am glad about that because these first attempts are not exactly like Mum and me.