Having just been stung by some unidentifiable insect that crawled down my t-shirt, I have realised that no account of life in Australia would be complete without reference to the crawlies that populate our land. However, as everything in Queensland is bigger, the nasties here approach the size of megafauna.
Taking my niece and nephew for a walk one afternoon, we passed a grasshopper sitting on a fence. Most grasshoppers I have encountered are about 3 cm long. This one was 10cm long.
'Wow, look at that,' Nephew said. 'Can you make it jump?'
'No,' I said firmly. 'We're not going to touch it.'
We walked on. A few houses down, he spied an enormous web stretched between a fence and a tree. In the middle of it was a spider, twice the size of my hand.
'Wow, look at that Auntie Jess.'
'That,' I replied, 'is disgusting.'
Nephew is always transfixed on seeing these creatures and so, coming back from the corner store with the dog one morning while he was at daycare, I saw a stag beetle (6cm long) in the middle of the footpath. After I had ascertained that it was dead, I gingerly picked it up in the dog's (unused) droppings bag and conveyed it home, then shook it out onto the kitchen bench without touching it. It lost a leg, but Nephew was still so pleased that he took it to day care for show-and-tell the next day.
Aside from grasshoppers, spiders and beetles, I have also seen enormous cockroaches that fly around the kitchen while I cringe and cover my head, and last night Nephew emerged from the bathroom proudly holding the biggest mosquito I have ever seen (3cm long), which his mother had killed.
'That's revolting,' I told him.
Much nicer are the white Indonesian geckos that skitter across the ceiling in the evenings. Nephew found a tiny baby gecko climbing the wall the other day and pulled off its tail in his enthusiasm to catch it. Having shown it to all interested parties, he put it back on the wall, and poked it to make it move.
'You've frightened it,' I explained. 'It's in shock, and you need to leave it alone if you want it to move.'
He didn't, and it died.
Otherwise my life of relaxation and procrastination continues apace. I swim, run, cook, read, attempt to write, and stagger out of bed at some Godforsaken hour to walk my niece to school in the mornings. I don't miss London much, although I do miss my brother, and my Pashley Princess, and the drama of snow.