Timing out.

I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as a quick visit to social media. Be it Facebook, Twitter, or whatever, it is never just a quick look, is it?

I can be busy with an online project, taking five to gather my thoughts and have a cuppa, figuring that I might spend a few minutes checking my Facebook pages and then get back to work with a fresh approach… And that would have to be the most ridiculous example of self deception there is,  because it is Never just a few minutes.

I know this for a fact because my last thingy of just a few minutes on Facebook turned into one hour and forty-five minutes! How could I have spend so much time checking my notifications, scrolling through my newsfeed, commenting and Liking/Loving/Caring/Wowing/Sad Facing/Angry Facing? Where did one whole hour and forty-five minutes go? It seemed like only two or three minutes ago I put the kettle on! What the hey?

And that’s what happens.  If time allegedly flies when you’re having fun, I must be having an absolute ball on Facebook! It doesn’t feel like I am in seventh heaven exactly, but I must be if that much time can elapse and I don’t even notice it.

I think it might be the scrolling. That newsfeed page seems to be never ending and it’s possible I become a little mesmerised by the constantly changing images and the need to see what the next one will be, and the next one and so on.  Plus all the news and shared posts from family and friends. They post a lot, they share a lot and I have to ensure I read the lot! And then comment and/or Love/Like/Care… etc, etc. It’s almost impossible to not respond in some way because I feel I am being remiss if I don’t. What if they think I missed it? Or worse, I saw it and I’m ignoring them? Okay, so chances are they wouldn’t think that at all, but you never know.

Thing is, I can be researching material, a lot of it, and making notes, editing things, cross referencing and writing and it can seem like I must have spent a   longer than one hour and forty-five minutes doing that but it’s actually only been forty minutes when I look at the clock.  Sure, I like what I do, and enjoy getting my teeth into a good lead, feature or news item, but I must love it to bits if I can get so much done in a shorter amount of time than I think I’ve spent on it. Either that, or I am a ridiculously fast worker.  Or it could be that when I’m onto something I can work through coffee breaks and meal times without really noticing. I’ve done that a few times.

So why does it take me so long to go through my social media pages and why does it feel like I’ve only been doing so for five minutes or something?  Maybe there’s subliminal text buried in the images that says “Don’t log out yet. You’ve only just got here.” and my brain says “Sure, no worries. I’m not going anywhere…”

Sounds feasible to me. As we are all aware weird stuff can happen online and maybe we’re all being quietly brainwashed into locking onto eternal loops of social media posts…and then we can’t unlock until acute hunger or a throbbing bladder snaps us out of it and we find it’s been, like, five hours! Well yes, I have to admit that sounds a bit too much like a conspiracy theory, and a silly one at that. As if that would really happen.

But on the other hand…



Enabling the Travel Bug

I renewed my passport just recently. Yes I know, why bother with doing that when it’s not likely I’ll be heading off anywhere overseas in the near future. I could have saved the money and let the “renew by” date come and go. Except that, should the need arise for me to hop on a plane to somewhere outside of Australia in the next year or so, I’d have to go through the whole rigmarole of getting a new one all over agin, as opposed to just doing a renewal.

So where am I planning to go? Well, nowhere at the moment, but down the track I would love to head back to Europe, especially to France. I loved France. But my new passport is good for the next ten years (because if you’re under the age of 74 in this country, you can only get a ten year one) and I expect that somewhere in the future decade it will be safe to travel again because there will be a good, all-round safe vaccine against COVID by then, and those of us with any sense will get the shots.  And of course, once we get the all-clear, I trust I will be able to grab my passport and go.

But it seems many in the same passport boat decided to jump ship when theirs came up for renewal.  Figures for passport renewals have dropped dramatically as people have decided that if they can’t travel, where is the point of paying out to renew it? Okay, I’ll admit they have a point there, and who knows, perhaps travel will be no safer in the next five to ten years than it is now, but I  think it will be. While there is a vaccine available now, it has had some glitches, so I expect work on the development of an even better version  will continue and when they hit the jackpot with the ultimate COVID vaccine, it will be made available worldwide, thus making it safe for us to globe trot again.

So I am not sorry I renewed my passport. Besides, my photo in this one is so much nicer than the last.  I look good!

Meanwhile, I have pacified my personal travel bug with a few trips beyond my local region and it felt good. There was the trip inland to spend some days with Daughter, Son-in-law and the grandkids (and all their pets) and we had a wonderful catch-up. Not quite overseas, but I did cross from NSW into Canberra so it was sort of interstate. Then there was the trip up the mountains to get new tyres on my car. I could have had them done locally but The Bloke very generously offered to cover the cost and it meant we could catch up for lunch and coffee.  It took about two and a half hours to drive up there, so that was sort of like a long distance trip too. Sort of.

Thing is, a few months ago I would not have done either trip because things were still a bit too iffy and while I knew I was not sick,  the kids and grandkids (and all their pets) were not sick and neither was The Bloke, it just seemed like the wrong thing to do at the time. Travel was still on hold to a degree and I wanted to do the right thing.  But now it’s okay to extend our boundaries for the moment and I am so hoping the trend continues. And I’m sure that’s possible, just so long as we are all responsible with our new-found semi-freedom.  I felt an exhilarating sense of semi-freedom as I headed up the highway! It was great and I truly believe travel much further afield will be possible in the near future and when it is, I’ll be ready. With my nice renewed passport, with the much nicer photo of me.

Seriously, I look good.



Multifunction Cookers. And Me.

I think they must be the current version of the crockpot. Remember them? In the 70s, crockpots were The Thing, as far as electrical appliances went, to have on your kitchen bench.

Basically a ceramic pot with a lid and a timer, they came in a variety of 70s kitchen colours like brown and cream, brown and cream with a splash of orange and one “beauty” I saw that was brown and cream with a splash of orange plus a spatter of lime green.  I think there may have been some yellow and cream versions too, but don’t quote me on that.

I’m not entirely sure on the details of cooking with a crockpot because we didn’t have one when I was growing up, but from what I understood, you just chopped things up , tossed them in and turned it on.  Then you went off and did your own thing until mealtime, where the crockpot delivered up it’s contents, perfectly cooked. I think they mostly cooked casseroles.

They were great, I suppose, if you were a so-so cook or an indifferent one, were time poor, or just didn’t like cooking and resented the fact that you were the only one on the roster for prep and cook, with a partner and kids who expected you to dish things up on a daily basis.

Today though, we have the multi-cooker! This is the crockpot makeover that was bound to happen and it has taken the humble 70s icon to a whole new level. They fry, they deep fry, they roast, steam, warm, simmer and slow cook. Well yes, the crockpot was the slow-cook ninja, but it didn’t do anything else. Not like these babies!

For the cook who doesn’t want to, these appliances would have to be the answer to their prayers because all they need to do is put the food in, basically, and the multifunction cooker will do the rest.  There is one on the market though that pretty much does everything but go to the supermarket for you. I can’t remember the name but it ends in ex (or is it ix?) but whatever, this one will chop, mix, blend and then cook whatever you throw into it and according to it’s many fans, is the ultimate appliance for when you’d rather be anywhere but in the kitchen preparing and cooking.

But what about those of us who like to cook? As one of those types, I am not yearning for a multifunction cooker. Not even the ex/ix one. I like to start from scratch with fresh ingredients. The herbs, the spices, the fragrances that tempt the palate as each is mixed/chopped and added at intervals, building something wonderful that everyone will enjoy.  It’s artistry in one of it’s best forms and for those of us who truly enjoy the gathering (I grow a lot of stuff in pots) and the art of blending flavours to create whole new taste experiences, the impersonal convenience of a multifunction cooker is just not going to cut it.  Like, even my casseroles are a slow build, adding things and tasting at intervals along the way to deliciousness. I’m not saying a multifunction cooker won’t deliver,  I’m just saying it won’t deliver with the same level of joy for a  cook who likes to immerse herself in the sensual delights of food creation.

A cook like me.

Let’s Stand Up for Pepe

So now it’s Pepe Le Pew. Of all the ridiculous accusations that anyone could throw at an animated cartoon character, Pepe has been “cancelled” because some fool, with waaay too much time on their hands (and prone to overthinking all kinds of minutiae) has alleged the loveable little skunk “normalises rape culture” via his heady passion for a cat he thinks is a lady skunk thanks to a randomly acquired white stripe down her back.

If you are spewing profanity right now, then we are on the same page. I am spewing swear words I didn’t even know I knew as I am writing this, because I cannot fathom why some people crave finding offence where it doesn’t exist.

I loved everything about the Pepe Le Pew cartoons; the quaint French scenes, all the ways the cat could manage to acquire that white stripe, and the antics in general. But what the wowsers are deliberately avoiding here is WHY she really objected to Pepe’s passionate pursuit. It was not his amour that set her to flight, but his distinctive odour, represented by that shadowy wave from the tip of his tail, trailing in his wake. This was made as plain as day. in those cartoons and that’s how kids viewed it. Not sexual aggression, it was all about the whiff. End of story.

But Pepe is not the first to attract baseless criticism. Some years ago it was Tom and Jerry. “Too violent” carped the censorious minority who also had  Noddy in their sights. “And it so is!” claimed the sister of a close associate of mine. “So tell me” he queried “are they acting out what they’ve been watching on each other?”

“What?” she spluttered “No! Of course not!”

“So what does that tell you?”

But a surprising number of parents did believe it, without really thinking about it, and started turning off Tom and Jerry and any other cartoons they sought, in vain, to find fault with.  And that’s how easy it is to get people onside with stupidity.

And look what happened to Barbie!  She was castigated for propagating “body image issues” in young girls. I watched a documentary on this subject where some little girls where brought in to discuss Barbie. Yes, they agreed, she was “sooo beautiful”. They just loved everything about Barbie, but when the woman who was making the doco asked them if they wanted to look like Barbie when they grew up, they looked at her like she had two heads. “But she’s a doll!” said one. “Why would someone want to look like a doll?” chimed in another and the rest of them had similar responses. Bingo!

I had to give the woman ten points for trying though. She phrased the same question several ways to try to coerce them into agreeing they felt pressured, thus intent on starving themselves almost to death and having lots of cosmetic procedures so they could look like a Barbie doll when they grew up, but the kids weren’t having any of it.  They also rejected the PC “real women” version of the doll in favour of the original glamour puss. Well…duh!

And now Pepe Le Pew is accused of “normalising” sexually predatory behaviour, hence his trip to the cutting room floor in Space Jam 2, and I am deeply offended.

It’s cancel culture run amok.


The Cost of getting Stone-faced

I’m talking about Chinese gua sha (and please don’t ask me to pronounce that because I haven’t the foggiest) facial massage and the use of “facial sculpting stones” here; apparently the New Black in keeping your face looking honed, toned and youthful, and the go-to tools for “face sculpting”, which could be the other New Black.  or just the New Word for “facial”.

Whatever, face-sculpting stones are all the go at present and never have rocks had more of a make-over. There are also sculpting tools, some made from crystals or metals if you want to move up from the basic rocks and naturally, the cost goes up too, depending on the gadget.

The basic rocks begin at around $30 each and you need at least two of them and it goes from there, all the way up to the  glossy gold-coloured solar-powered micro-current version which will hit you up for around $298. The basic stones are designed to be used in conjunction with a facial oil, but the roller and other versions may not be, I’m not really sure. There are also vibrating ones and then there’s the Flash Facial gadget which uses LED light, thermo and cryo therapies, as well as T-sonic pulses (whatever they are) and claims  to give you a salon worthy facial in just ninety seconds. Neat! And that one will only set you back $395!

And I have to say, all of these face sculpting tools are attractive. The basic stones are smooth, shiny and come in a variety of pastel bathroom-y colours and will glide over your face with the help of a quality face oil. Which all sounds lovely. Some of the rollers, vibrators and squeezers (did I mention them?) are also quite attractive in their metal finishes.

And then there’s fingertips. While not qualifying as quite as luxe as gua sha facial sculpting stones (and the other thingies), the advantages of just using your fingertips is a) you already have eight of them (thumbs don’t figure here so I haven’t counted them), b) you can’t drop them like you just may drop an oil-smeared stone and c) nothing knows your facial contours like your own fingers.

On the downside though, while fingertips come in a vast array of lovely natural skin tones, they don’t come in pastel shades of rose, blue, green, yellow or mauve.  They aren’t plated in 18 carat gold (like the ergonomic gold set at just $200). You can’t leave your fingertips in an expensive little dish on the bathroom vanity for other women to see and get all envious over and…well…they just aren’t gua sha!

But they work. Incredibly well! So why would you want to fork out for a fad when you already have the tools to hone, tone and massage your face literally at your fingertips? I suppose if I really wanted to, I could nick down to my local beach and pick up two sea-polished stones, use them, and then lie about where they came from should any female visitors spot them, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable with pulling a swifty like that and would eventually have to fess up. But beach stones could easily moonlight as gua sha stones, I suppose. They’d be a lot less expensive for a start (think free) and come in really nice natural hues. The polished quartz I’ve found there is beautifully white…

Plus fingertips are great for accuracy. They glide around your face with ease and finding the right pressure to use is a cinch. Probably a lot easier than sliding oil-slicked rocks around your face, although there may be some merit in the rollers, pulsers and vibrators. But when it’s all said and done, I still think they’re all just another fad.

I’ll stick with fingers for now.


The Circle of Trends

It’s inevitable, isn’t it? Things come into fashion, hang around for a while and then disappear, only to reappear a couple of decades later and suddenly they are a whole “new” trend. Except they aren’t all that new because they are on their second or even third go-aorund.

Liked flared pants. Hipster pants and the combo of flared hipster pants. In the 60s, flares were called bell-bottoms and by the 70s had also dropped from standard waist to  a version of the hipster style. In the mid to late 2000s they made a comeback and the teens of that generation thought they were “new”! Ditto multiple ear piercings and earrings on boys. Sorry kids, but it had all been done around 30 years before.

But what prompted me to write about this now is a small item I spotted in the back pages of one of the Sunday newspapers; an influencer/fashionista type (male, but I can’t remember his name) had commented on a “new” hair look where women are highlighting their faux fringes and side tendrils blonde. It was the accompanying photo that got my attention though, because this was also a major fashion trend back in the 70s.  Along with the flares and the earrings…

It was so popular that pretty much every second girl you saw was sporting this look, and it did look good. No matter what their actual hair colour, the blonde fringe and side tendrils (if you wanted them done too) looked very cool. Even curly-haired girls could get away with this one.  Then came the spray-on colour and one innovative classmate of mine turned up at school one morning with her fringe sprayed silver! it got a few frowns from the nuns, but they settled down once she revealed it would brush out.  But it was a nice variation on blonde. But even girls with blonde hair did the blond fringe thingy, they had theirs bleached to frosty white!

So, it’s not a new trend at all, despite the influencer/fashionista guy believing it is.  It’s just a look that has re-emerged after 40 years and those of us who  remember when this look first hit the streets are probably like “Oh my god! I remember that! I even did this look for at least a year!” It was really popular with teenaged girls back then.

But every time an old trend has a rebirth with a new generation, the newbies think they have done it first and that their parents wouldn’t have a clue. Oh but we do! Today’s skinny jeans were called “cigarette leg” (not to be confused with the straight leg) jeans a few decades ago and we wore them with killer heels, flashy belts (which were only for show because there was no way in hell those jeans were going to fall down) and 80s hair.  All the coolest jeans labels did a “cigarette” version in pale faded denim and they were the hottest look in cool  for a while there.

Some looks though never seem to go away completely and one that has endured through the decades is the hippy look. Called boho now, this colourful, pastel, floral array of floaty garments in natural cottons and other organic fibres has remained faithful to its alternative looks and styles and is very popular in trendy coastal locations and doesn’t appear to be age-based. Anyone can wear boho and look good in it and for many wafting around in it now, it’s a look they have carried with them from the heady days of Woodstock and The Summer of Love.  It looked really good with the blonde fringe thingy too.

Which has found its way back into fashion after all this time.





Misinformation: It’s a Minefield.

What is it with some people and  their desire to spread misinformation, based purely on their own suppositions, but lacking in any real facts? And why do many of them, who have no specific qualifications,  present themselves as “knowledgeable”, especially on anything to do with health and medicine? Sure, they have their opinions  (everyone has those) but opinions aren’t necessarily facts,  so when people start spreading the wrong information about things they have no real knowledge about, it’s a problem.

The latest Instagrammer to throw her hat into the ring is Chloe Lattanzi, famous for…well. for being the offspring of famous parents (Olivia Newton-John and Matt Lattanzi).  Apparently, Chloe is also an actor and singer, but I’m yet to see her name in the credits of anything I’ve ever watched or to hear anything she has recorded, but that’s not to say she doesn’t do these things. Her father’s an actor and her mother’s a singer so I guess it stands to reason she would have had a go at both. Many offspring of famous parents have a shot at breaking into their parents’ fields, and some of them even manage to pull it off. Perhaps Chloe did as well.

But anyway, Chloe has made some media waves recently with an Instagram post revealing some anti-leanings on vaccines, masks and lockdowns.  Okay,  she is entitled to her views but why can’t she, and those of her ilk, keep those based-on-misinformation opinions to themselves?  If they choose not to believe the science, fine, but please, don’t try to justify it with outpourings which have absolutely no basis in fact!

Chloe believes that “real medicine” comes from the earth, predominantly from herbs and plants and, while she is not wrong there (many plants have wonderful medicinal qualities and can be very successful in treating a number of health issues) there are some instances that require medical intervention and one of those instances is controlling some very nasty diseases via vaccination..

But Chloe believes vaccines are toxic, claiming they contain mercury and pesticides, but in the next breath claims she is not an anti-vaxxer.  Really? But she so sounds like one! But let’s looks at that mercury claim…

From the 1930s through to 2000, the mercury-based preservative, Thiomersal (also known as Thimerosal) was used in vaccines in very small amounts (well below toxic levels) to prevent bacterial and fungal contamination, particularly in multi-dose vials where withdrawing repeated doses from the same vial was more likely to result in contamination.  However, none of the vaccines on the National Immunisation Program (NIP) currently supplied in Australia contain it.  Multi-dose vaccine vials are no longer in use anyway, for routine immunisation, and Thiomersal was removed in 2000, prompted by the possibility of harm stemming from ethyl mercury, which is a metabolite of Thiomersal.

But Thiomersal was only ever used in very small amounts. Keep that in mind. If you are reading this, then it did not kill you.

Aluminium is another element getting a lousy run over it’s use in vaccines but here’s the thing; aluminium is the most abundant element on the planet, after oxygen and silicon, and is the most abundant metal present in the earth’s crust.  It is also present naturally in air, in water,  most plant life and in soil. It’s use in vaccines is as an adjuvant, which is a component that boosts the immune response to the vaccine. However, you should also note (and this is the biggie) that vaccines containing adjuvants are tested extensively in clinical trials before being licensed.

So, does Chloe know all this? Well, she does run a medical marijuana farm in the US, but I’m not sure that qualifies her to make such scathing remarks about vaccinations. Nor about masks and lockdowns come to think of it.  Chloe is certainly free to think these things if she wishes and to even believe them (because I don’t think she has done the right research) but  she should leave it there, because without the right kind of medical know-how to post knowledgeably, she would be better off not posting at all.

Sounds like a plan.

The Toxicity of the Karens and the Chads

Happy 2021!

We’ve all come through a bit of a different Christmas and New Year haven’t we? Well, for those of us who took onboard the need to continue with the social distancing rules anyway. Some opted to throw caution to the four winds, but for most of us things had to be done around the New Normal.

Which doesn’t feel very normal at all, but that’s the way of the world for the time being and common sense would suggest we all just go with the flow for now.

But it’s nice to know that some things haven’t changed. Well no, it’s actually not all that nice, because I’m talking about the Karens and the Chads. For those of you who don’t know what a Chad is, it is the male version of the Karen, and they are starting to come to the fore now. Although to be honest, I think they have always been present, but have managed to stay below the radar because we have been distracted by the antics of the Karens.

Both however, are highly toxic.

Karens, as we know, have a  heightened sense of entitlement, and can become loudly aggressive when they believe their “rights” have been challenged, which we have seen many times when one of them has been confronted with the directives regarding masks and hand sanitiser. They also have issues with social distancing and anything else that might stymie their desire to do whatever they want. They get downright nasty, and then they get abusive.

Chads also have a well-developed sense of entitlement and are as obsessed with their “rights” as the Karens, but where the Karens tend to throw noisy tantrums when confronted with reality, Chads tend to be quietly sinister. They get sarcastic, caustic, and are also very fond of glaring at whoever has had the audacity to challenge them. You will spot the occasional Chad who can be as loudly vocal as a Karen, but more often than not they keep the spleen to a lower decibel. But it’s just as nasty.

Karens and Chads often present as a pair, which would be par for the course I suppose, like being attracted to like and all, and when they come up against a reality check they tend to operate in tandem.  The Karen becomes immediately indignant. The Chad kicks in with the eye-roll, followed by the glare. If that fails to exempt them from having to comply with whatever it is they don’t want to do, despite it being a reasonable request that the rest of us don’t have an issue with, the Karen will then begin to express her displeasure via rudeness and if that doesn’t work, will resort to aggressive body language and shouty voice. The Chad will back her up.

As I mentioned, Chads get off on being sarcastic, but that’s only the start. Chads are also very entitled and strangely, all of them tend to believe they are gifted with a far greater degree of intelligence than the rest of humanity, especially business owners/staff who insist the current rules, which apply to everyone else who enters the premises these days, also apply to the Karen and the Chad. But the Karen and the Chad are hellbent on challenging any form of constraint. Confronted with the hard and fast rules for masks and hand sanitiser, they will go on the attack and that’s where the Chad can get really nasty. She rants, but he quietly throws down the gauntlet and can become quite threatening if that fails to move things along in their favour.

If this isn’t an offence worthy of arrest yet, it should be, because business owners and their staff do have the right to insist on any current rules of entry, which means hand sanitiser and masks these days, and the Karens and the Chads need to be brought back down to earth with a resounding thud because this is life now.

And they need to get over themselves.

The Shifting Bug

No, I’m not talking about moving house. I’m talking about that sudden desire to rearrange the furniture, be it just a couple of things in a room or the whole room or even the whole house.  I’m really susceptible to suddenly wanting to change rooms around and it’s on me right now.

Except I’m living in a flat at the moment. It’s a really attractive flat but the space is limited to a degree and there are only so many rearrangements I can do. I did the lounge room some time ago and fortunately I like it the way it is because it looks open and spacious…and there are not a lot of other options to change it again anyway.

Which leaves the bedroom. It has been as  I originally set it up when I moved in here and while it works well, I have decided it could work even better if I changed things around in there, and while the bed will probably need to stay where it is, the other things in the room can definitely be shuffled into new locations and then the whole room will look transformed.

And you know what they way; a change is as good as a holiday. Well I already live on the outskirts of a little coastal village, and right across the road from my local beach so it’s all very holiday-like here anyway, but that just gives me added incentive to give in the the Shifting Bug and do a big move-around of almost everything in that bedroom, thus creating a whole new space and I should be happy with it for at least the next six months or so.  Or indefinitely if it looks really really good.

To be honest though, I don’t know why I get these sudden compulsions to rearrange an entire room, but when it’s upon me I become the furniture shifting ninja. It doesn’t matter how big it is, it doesn’t matter how heavy it is, because if it has to be moved it gets moved and if I go down in a heap from exhaustion afterwards, that’s cool, because I am seeing a nice attractive space from my spot on the floor, which gives me the incentive to crawl out to the kitchen, heave myself to my feet and put the kettle on. Caffeine is really good when you’re shoving stuff hither and thither. And chocolate. Chocolate is excellent.

I used to think I was maybe unique with the moving a room around compulsion and was almost afraid to tell anyone incase they thought I was a bit strange, but it turns out I am not alone. I know other women who experience the same thing from time to time and they can’t fight the desire either. When it hits, it hits big and we have all found that our strength reserves almost triple when it comes to having to shift that weighty piece of furniture halfway around a room. It’s quite amazing really. I know from experience that while I may struggle with a loaded laundry basket, shifting that heavy chest of drawers from one side of a room to another is a walk in the park. Ditto that just as heavy oak dressing table from where it is now to another spot on a completely different wall will be no big deal. That’s just the way it is.

It must be the adrenalin, I think. You know it’s going to look good so you can’t wait to get into it and you don’t even notice how much effort you’re having to put into the pushing and lifting and shoving until the next morning, when you wake to every muscle screaming profanity and getting out of bed means rolling over til you fall out because sitting up and swinging your feet to the floor just isn’t going to happen. But the room looks just lovely!

Even from the floor.





Preserving the Pisauridae

Preserving the what?

Pisauridae is the family name for the various species of water spider which, while not exactly on the endangered list as yet, are nevertheless heading down the road towards rarity, as urban sprawl and excessive rural land clearing threaten the ponds and streams which are their natural habitat.

And that is a real shame because these spiders are as beautiful as they are unique.  The only truly aquatic spiders, they are completely harmless to humans (although adults have large fangs and  can give a painful bite if handled) these graceful arachnids live their entire lives around water.  In Australia, water spiders inhabit the coastal areas right around the country.

Excellent swimmers, water spiders can skim at incredible speed across the water surface when startled, but will also happily dive beneath the water and swim just as swiftly to a safer spot if threatened by a predator.  And did I say these guys are fast? Good, because they so are!

Water spiders are nocturnal, coming out in the evening to take up a position at the water’s edge where they anchor themselves via their back legs to the bank, an overhanging rock or piece of log or foliage, while spreading their other legs out across the water surface. And there they wait until dinner arrives. Their main diet is insects, but they also like the occasional small fish or small frog and the odd tadpole. They will eat a lot of mozzies (mosquitoes) which is ideal and on the whole, will live harmoniously with the other denizens of the pond or stream.

Ranging in colour from black through dark grey, brown, occasionally speckled and golden yellow, most have a distinctive while stripe down each side of their body. Males grow up to 10mm long and females to 30mm. Their leg span can be up to 180mm (18cm) so if you have a pond in your garden, your paddock or a gentle creek meandering through your property and you decide to nick out with a torch to see if you have any resident water spiders, you’ll be unlikely to  miss ’em, and those body stripes are borderline reflective in torchlight. One of the larger species in Australia is Megadolomedes australianus, also known as the Giant Fishing Spider. You definitely won’t miss one of those if it has downed stakes in your pond. And lucky you if it has!

The thing is, these spiders must have a body of water to survive. They can make do with wet, mossy ground but given the choice, they will opt for water every time. Which is where you can come in. Do you have a spot where you could put in a pond? It doesn’t need to be huge and plant nurseries often carry a range of ready-to-put-in ponds that would be ideal. Place some rocks around it, plant some leafy foliage and then leave it to become it’s own mini ecosystem. The frogs will come, the insects will come and if you are really lucky, so will one of the beautiful water spiders. Keep the water level up and the water free from becoming stagnant and the local aquatic life will thank you. Almost all gardens will benefit from a water feature anyway, and they can be made really attractive, but mainly you will have created a safe haven, as well as a point of interest when you suss out what has moved in.

Certainly, you will want to ensure your pond child safe, if you have little ones, but there are various ways you can do this which will still allow everyone to enjoy the pond, but will prevent the littlies from falling in.

Perhaps this could be your next home project. You could probably do this over a weekend or two and the whole family could be involved in the planning and the actual doing, and have something really attractive to show for it at the end.

And while we all still have a degree of lockdown time on our hands…

Go for it.