|De Havilland Grumman Mallard|
|De Havilland Trojan|
I’m often surprised.
If given due consideration, it’s possible we surprise our own self more often than we do others. I’m not sure....I’ll have to think about it. Speaking on my own behalf, I know I surprise myself at times. I don’t jump at my own shadow, though, if that’s what you’re thinking.
Questionable behaviour of many humans continually surprises me. I wish human behaviour would cease to surprise me, but it, or they, won’t comply. Just when I think I’ve heard or seen it all - surprise, surprise - a rude awakening!
There’s no time for complacency. I hold onto hope, but the cord, stretched to extreme, has become surprisingly thin.
Over the years – and there are many of them – another one (year) was added to my list a couple of days ago - I’ve been successful in planning three surprise birthday parties, one of which was for my late brother, Graham, who hated birthday parties, surprise or otherwise. In fact, Graham wasn’t fond of parties of any kind.
However, the surprise party I surreptitiously planned for my brother when he worked with me on Hinchinbrook Island went off with a bang. Graham ended up, much to his surprise (and to my delight), having a ball! I wish I’d taken video as proof.
Towards the end of the night’s festivities, to my surprise, he even kicked up his heels and legs while performing the can-can...or a wild tropical version thereof...with a couple of his female co-workers.
Summer-mango season and the tropics play games with people...personalities change! Throw a few, freshly-caught mud crabs into the mix and all hell of the best kind breaks out!
His birthday that year...28th February, 1986....was a happy, carefree night; one that occurred about 10 days before the resort was to re-open to the public – to guests. The fun and games were just among the “island natives” aka my staff and me.
Another of my surprise birthday parties was for my ex, Randall, back in the mid-Seventies when we were living in Toowong, a Brisbane suburb.
I thought having a surprise party for his birthday was a great idea. He wasn’t too keen on surprise parties, either.
Upon exiting our bathroom, with only a towel tied around his hips, he received a hell of a surprise when he was greeted by a room full of smiling, ready-to-party party-goers. He was almost dressed appropriately for the occasion...almost in his birthday suit. His Sunday demeanour nearly turned into a misdemeanour.
He’d not had a clue what I’d planned, and had been planning. Our kitchen cupboards were always well-stocked. He was used to seeing me prepare food...lots of it...so my actions in the kitchen that morning and the preceding evenings hadn’t alerted him anything suspicious was going on.
Adept at subterfuge, even Sherlock Holmes wouldn’t have stumbled across my well-hidden evidence, magnifying glass or no magnifying glass. I’d left no clues.
It might come as a surprise to some, but we’re still good mates – my ex and me, that is - not Sherlock and me. Mr. Holmes didn’t enjoy being beaten at his own game. He threw a tantrum and left in a huff.
My first husband received the surprise of his life for one of his birthdays, too.
I forgot his birthday!
In the belief I’d planned a surprise party, he spent his whole work day preparing for what he thought lay ahead when he arrived home. Diligently, he’d rehearsed his grand, Oscar-winning performance of mock astonishment.
When I was made aware of my monstrous, momentous blooper it was my jaw that dropped. I had enough egg on my face to feed a cast of thousands.
All’s well that ends well, though – to their surprise, we ended up partying with our upstairs’ neighbours. The four of us partied well into the night.
My first husband and I are still good mates, too...surprisingly!
My first husband and I are still good mates, too...surprisingly!
The person I’ve surprised most of all, though, is me.
One of my biggest surprises was the lack of fear I felt flying in seaplanes – the De Havilland Grumman Mallard, the Beaver and Twin Otter flown by the marvellous company, Air Whitsunday, out of Townsville and Airlie Beach, respectively - when I managed the now-defunct resort on Hinchinbrook Island.
Before my first seaplane flight I believed I was terrified of small aircraft. To my surprise, once I’d flown low over the magnificent island and the Coral Sea, I found I’d not an ounce of fear flowed through my veins – just adrenaline.
Matching the thrill of flying in seaplanes was the buzz I felt when I went up in a helicopter. A TV crew came to the resort, by helicopter, to interview me. When asked if I’d like to go for a ride in the chopper, without a second thought, I grabbed the opportunity, and leapt aboard. I didn’t need to be asked twice. I believed I’d never get the chance again; and so far, unsurprisingly, I haven’t.
Wow! That helicopter flight certainly was one I'll never forget...for all the right reasons!
Flying from Cairns to Normanton and return by light aircraft was also exhilarating.
Viewing the Gulf Country...the Red Savannah...from above is awesome, as is flying low above the Atherton Tablelands.
In the late Eighties-early Nineties, I surprised myself by being the skipper of a boat...a 21-foot De Havilland Trojan, powered by a 175hp Johnson outboard motor. Ferrying guests to and from Newry Island, as well as the island’s provisions etc., had never been on my radar. Transporting guests and provisions to and from any island had never been on my Life’s plan...but there I was driving a boat, carrying passengers across the ocean.
Wonders never do cease!
Even though I surprised me by partaking in many more exciting adventures throughout the years, I do admit I’m not as adventurous as many, many others, but that’s not surprising....
Breakfast Surprise: Preheat oven, 200C. Scrub and prick all over, 2 med-large potatoes. Place on centre oven rack; bake 40-45mins, until tender. Cool 15mins; slice each in half lengthwise; hollow out; scoop flesh into bowl; add 2tbs butter and 3tbs cream; mash until smooth; season. Spread some into bottom of each potato skin; sprinkle with shredded cheese; add 1 cooked bacon rasher to each half; rasher can overlap edges; top with raw egg. Place onto baking sheet. Lower oven temp to 190C; bake until egg whites just set and yolks are still runny. Top with a sprinkle of shredded cheese; season; top with sliced chives.
Baked Eggs: Preheat oven 200C. In saucepan, heat 2tbs olive oil over med-high heat. Add 1 chopped onion; sauté until soft; add 140g spinach; sauté until just wilted, about 2mins. Remove from heat. In bowl, combine 1 can whole tomatoes,1tsp cumin, salt, pepper, 1/2tsp sweet paprika, and, if desired,2tsp hot sauce. Add onion-spinach mixture. Divide among 4 oiled ramekins. Crack egg into centre of each ramekin; sprinkle on crumbled feta. Bake until whites are set but yolks still soft, 12-15mins.
Surprise Scones: Preheat oven 246C. Bring water to boil; add 2 eggs; boil 4-5mins; remove from heat; set aside. Cube 2tbs cold butter; put in freezer until needed. Combine 1c plain flour, 1tbs sugar, 1-1/2tsp baking powder, 1/2tsp baking soda and 1/2tsp salt in processor; pulse 1-2times until combined; drop in COLD butter; pulse until crumbly; don’t over-mix. Add 1/2c shredded cheddar; pulse until just combined; transfer to bowl; gently fold in 2tbs chopped chives. Add 3/4c Greek yoghurt to mix; combine until just combined. Using about ¼ of dough, shape into plump biscuit; place onto sprayed baking sheet; press well in centre; place peeled egg in well sideways. Form another “biscuit”; place on top of egg; cover completely. Bake 5mins; reduce heat to 200C; sprinkle top with grated cheese and seeds of choice; bake 6-7mins until golden. Top with melted butter, if not topped with melted cheese, and chives to serve.