Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tingle = little thrill

My forefinger's tingling again. It does that now, from time to time, ever since I stupidly poked it into a parrot's cage at Cooberrie Park in Queensland, and the blasted bird bit me. The wound has healed, but it's left some nerve damage, obviously, that causes this intermittent tingle.
It was buzzing silently all the way to work this morning, and made me think about the bird that did it: an eclectus parrot, a vision in green and red, that I'd only ever come across once before. That was also in a cage, also in Australia - in Broome, which I always remember in vivid shades of red, blue and orange. It's a great place to visit, interesting and quirky and in a gloriously beautiful part of the country.
Our hotel was interesting and quirky, too. McAlpine House, 100 years old, is a classic tropical Master Pearler's house with wide eaves, spacious shady verandas with white-painted trellis, leisurely ceiling fans, wide old timbers on the floors, dim woody library, a swimming pool under a sun-shade, lots of big armchairs scattered about, and more loungers out on the deck beneath a huge mango tree. It's very relaxing and welcoming and we loved staying there. There was an aviary with a pair of eclectus parrots on the deck, which fitted well with the general ambience of idiosyncratic luxury.
Lord Alistair McAlpine, who built it, was the 10th richest man in Britain at the time, thanks to the famous McAlpine construction company. The firm was founded by his grandfather Sir Robert McAlpine, also known as Concrete Bob, who built, amongst many other Scottish landmarks, the wonderful Glenfinnan Viaduct in the west. It has 21 arches, is built on a curve, and is well-known to all Harry Potter fans from the scenes in the movie where the Hogwarts Express crosses it. The train is actually The Jacobite, a classic black, brass and maroon steam train that takes tourists from Fort William to the coast.
I haven't ridden it, but I did stand thigh-deep in wet heather once to take a photo of it, and it was a great sight - and sound. Another sort of tingle entirely. Gosh, I love it when stuff joins up like this: it's almost worth not being young any more.

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