Ok, I'm pretty sure it's Friday..

Friday, 4 January 2019

I rolled my ankle on a short run with Paul on Wednesday morning so I've been walking my usual ridge run here at Hardy's Bay. This morning the water looked like this as I left the shack..

 

The day before it was more like this:

Up on top of the ridge it wasn't possible to see down to the water at all, in contrast to the day before:

 

The foresty parts were still lovely though.. 

 

Despite the hazy start, it's turned into a hot day. We've already swum at two beaches, with a bit of a clifftop walk in between. I suspect we'll be back at a third beach later in the day when the sun retreats a bit. 

 

 

 

Is today Thursday already?

Thursday, 3 January 2019

We've had a whirlwind of a time so far in Sydney, jam packed with friends, family, walks, beaches and fireworks. It's been awesome.

 We started with an orienteering event at Sydney University - a campus I've never been on before so it was great to run all around it, right through the famous quadrangle as well as in and out of grafitti ridden tunnels and around the new and old buildings.  The heat was a bit tough (particularly for the kids), but it was superfun.

That evening we were lucky enough to get to go to an apartment in Kings Cross with Jon's sister's family and a fantastic view of the bridge.

As it turned out we didn't get a great view of the 9pm fireworks as we were busy trying to unlock the door of the apartment, but that just made the 12pm version more anticipated! They didn't let us down.

The next day was Zali's birthday (she'd been at a sleepover party the night before with Sydney friends so she had her own great view from Pyrmont), her wish was for ikea breakfast and to checkout another giant store called Decathalon right opposite it. While she lived her dream I raced off with Tracy to get our friend Belinda from the bus station, then Tracy took us on a tour of Middle Head. I'm squinting as I haven't seen my sunglasses since NYE! 

 

 

It's too complicated to describe the rest of our activities but it culminated in us all being back together at Fairlight Beach near Manly, a great place to snorkel and swim and enjoy the views.

 

After a few hours we headed back to Lane Cove and granted Zali's other birthday wish which was Dominos Pizza for dinner!  It was a great day (and wouldn't have been possible without Paul and Tracy's great ideas and logistical support)!

We're now at Hardy's bay, enjoying the beaches and the shack. As we drove up the windy road that leads towards the shack we came across this sign..

which was pretty cool, as I'd just noticed another one that someone had stuck up on the previous bend welcoming some people back to Hardy's Bay for Christmas which I thought was really cool, then sure enough, on the next bend there was one for Zali!  Nice effort Tim & Shirl!

We've since had 3 beach trips with more planned tomorrow before we head back to the big smoke on Saturday.

 

We've only been here a few days, but I think we've already packed in a week's worth of activities. Looking forward to the rest of the week! 

Cradle Mountain Day 3

Sunday, 30 December 2018

After a day of travelling the very much beaten tracks, we decided to investigate a circuit that was no longer marked on the standard issue day walk map.   I've always been curious about it and two years ago we had heard that the route was quite overgrown but there were plans to clear it, so I held out hope that it wouldn't be a bush-bash all the way around!  

The track started from near our cabin and went up the broad gully through open heath and pandani oasis..

 

 

The track was muddy in  parts, but generally pretty good. 

 

After the broad gully the track turned uphill and climbed to the top of the ridge directly behind where all the Waldheim cabins are.  Up on top it was very open and quite windy.

 

Then we had a steep descent through mossy King Billy Pine back down to the old chalet and our cabin.  The loop was about 6.5k long and took us just over 2 hours. Well worth the trip! 

In the afternoon we caught the shuttle out to the visitor's centre so we could buy icecreams, then we walked from the ranger station back to Romy Creek on the boardwalk which was just over 6km and delightful as always.

 

 

By the time we got home we were pretty tired and happy to spend the rest of our time at Cradle Mountain playing boardgames and continuing to work our way through our Christmas leftovers.  It was a really lovely trip and we'll be back in the not too distant future.  


Cradle Mountain Day 2

Saturday, 29 December 2018

Our mission on day 2 was to climb Cradle Mountain. Zali and I had been up it in 2016, but Jon and Jett still hadn't made it. We had tried a year earlier, but the snow and tricky route forced us to turn around.

The weather was looking good as we left Waldheim and made our way towards Marion's Lookout

 

By the time we got to Marion's lookout the short steep climb had made me too puffy to take any photos.  After a quick rest we continued on to the base of Cradle..

 

The climb itself is much harder than the average tourist is expecting, it's physically strenuous and there are a few tricky scrambles up the piles of rocks near the summit.  On our way up the mountain we passed groups in various states of despair. Luckily we knew what to expect and Jett is signifcantly taller than last time we tried, so we had no problems.

  

 

 

 

After the summit we headed around the Face Track, which gave us some fantastic views and terrain. 

 

Then we went down the track through the ballroom forest to edge of Dove Lake.. 

 

 

 

From Dove Lake it was an easy 3k jaunt home. I think we were out for about 8 hours all up, including a leisurely lunch atop Cradle Mountain. 

All in all it was a great day. The pictures don't show it, but it was pretty hot and despite our best efforts we all had a few patches of sunburn.  The pictures also don't really show how busy it was with other hikers in the park - there were lots of people everywhere.  I'm glad all the non-locals got a day with good views!

 

Cradle Mountain Day 1

Saturday, 29 December 2018

On Boxing day we packed and headed off to Cradle Mountain - an escape I booked on a whim about a year ago.  I'm so glad I did!  We were staying at Waldheim Cabins - the only accommodation available right in the park, and by far the cheapest (they are very cosy and quite basic though).  

As we didn't leave that early, by the time we got there it was late afternoon, so Jon and I went for a run on the boardwalk while the kids went wombat spotting..

 

The summer flowers are out and the place looks and smells beautiful.

 

 

There were plenty of wombats to be found. Near where we are staying you can pretty much guarantee wombat sightings after 4pm each day. 

Christmas Day 2018

Saturday, 29 December 2018

We had a lovely day.  I dragged Jon out for a run, then we got to work preparing brunch..

 

The spread was pretty awesome.. 

 

and the weather was great so we ate on the deck..

 

 

Then we kicked everyone out and spent the rest of the day playing board games, doing a puzzle, dancing with the Xbox and playing table tennis. 

 

 

Then in the evening we had my new favourite meal. Br-Inner.  Delicious. 

 

Hong Kong Day 4

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Today has been all about waiting. After breakfast (Special K in a plastic container with a plastic spoon in my room) I gathered up my gear and checked out of my room to join the other competitors waiting for the buses to the event.  I keep mentioning that this place is a Youth Hostel, and it officially is, but it's really more like a standard hotel that happens to have dorm rooms as well. It didn't have a shared kitchen like a normal youth hostel (the only food had to come from the same place that made the breakfast that I discarded on day 1 so I didn't go back). And I was staying in my own room which was very spacious by Hong Kong standards.



Anyway I was pretty surprised to see that North Korea were entered for this event and were in fact present in the bus queue - it was easy to spot them in their 70s inspired tracksuits, plus the fact that they were the only people in the whole of Hong Kong without phones in their hands.  It does beg the questions a) how on earth is there orienteering in North Korea, and b) how on earth they are getting to travel to Hong Kong? Unfortunately these questions will have to remain a mystery as it wasn't going to feasible to have a conversation with them.  Interestingly although they attended the event today, they didn't compete - they just participated in the opening ceremony.  North Koreans love ceremonies I guess.

We all arrived at the event (in Sheung Shui right up near the Chinese border) at 10am, which meant for a long wait until my start time at 12:50.  The Hong Kong association hasn't quite got the hang of the spectator factor for orienteering - there wasn't much to see from the assembly area - but luckily I had my book so I just read. It was rainy and a bit cold so I was really ready to run when my start time finally arrived.

 


After some confusion at the very start of the race I had a decent run. It was mostly around an older style chinese village made up of 2 story buildings and very very very narrow pathways and walled alleyways in between them. I found myself having to duck under washing strung from one side of the alley to the other, and we had to avoid buckets, bikes, and other household items stored outside.  A few times I was sure I was actually turning into someone's house (as the ground was occasionally tiled and raised a bit like an entrance way) but thankfully I didn't end up in anyone's living room. I suspect someone might have made that mistake as just as I was starting a very irate local turned up to give the organisers an earful of feedback about their event. It started out heated and escalated but I didn't get to see the outcome as I had to start right at that moment.  These photos aren't of the exact place, but are really similar to what we were running through.

 

Anyway - I was 2nd overall, a japanese lady beat me by just over a minute. It was one of those events where you just can't run fast, as the navigation is so tricky - it was very similar to the World Master's qualification race in 2017 which had different challenges which also left you feeling like you didn't run flat out for very much of it.  Actually that's lucky as Hong Kong has removed the shower facilities from the airport, so my pre-flight shower plan has been foiled and until I few minutes ago I was still in my running gear.


Anyway - straight after I ran I had to hotfoot it into the town centre to catch the airport bus. The town was really busy with shoppers - and most of them seemed to be filling suitcases with their purchase. It turns out the town's proximity to China (as opposed to China SAR) makes it a popular outlet for smugglers and shops selling smuggled goods. In anycase I didn't feel out of place wearing my leisurewear and wheeling my little suitcase along behind me (although I was no doubt a bit sweatier than the other shoppers!).  After a short wait the luxurious airport bus came along and I had a lovely smooth and quick journey to the airport where I am waiting now. 

This trip has been fun, but I'm glad I'm coming home and not staying for the rest of the orienteering - it's way less fun going orienteering all by myself - I mean it's fine, and it's an adventure, but it's more fun being with friends and family and I'm looking forward to seeing everyone when I get home. 
 

Hong Kong Day 3

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Today I navigated the MTR (train) system like a boss and shaved a third off my travel time to Olympic House.  I had plenty of time to take a few photos on the way.

 

I joked to Clare before I left that I would have the luxury having the best English skills, and the 2nd best Norwegian skills in the training room (I'm doing an IOF Event Advisers Course).  I'm not sure I'd bet my life on the former as there were some pretty good English speakers, but I was right about the latter - the course is being taught by a Norwegian, who happens to be a longtime friend of my Norwegian family. In any case I was definitely the only student who was being taught in my native tongue.

 

Afterwards we had the standard training course lunch..


Ok maybe not quite so standard. It was pretty good anyway - very chinese of course but today had more vegetarian options than yesterday which was good!    I don't think I've eaten authentic chinese since I left the ABC - we used to go to Chatswood quite frequently for Yum Cha. To tell the truth it's not my favourite cuisine, but today was pretty good.  

Then once we were all dismissed I ambled my way back to the train station, doing a bit of shopping in all my usual stores on the way..

 

 

Ok. Maybe not those shops but I did have a quick shop in The Gap and Uniglo.   Just like the MTR, all the stores were packed, I only lasted a little while before I had to get back out to the street!

Then I hopped back onto the MTR and travelled 'home'. When I exited the underground I was amazed that the street had changed again - it was suddenly packed with markets and the streets which had traffic the day before were now  packed with people instead. It was like a completely different street!

As it turned out, it was a completely different street and I'd exited the station in a different place.  After a few minutes of confusion I fixed my mistake and walked back up to the hostel. It's finally starting to look like there is an orienteering event on as the teams from Asian nations are arriving.

 

 I'm just running the sprint event tomorrow then heading straight to the airport so I can be home on Christmas Eve.  The Asian Championships involves a sprint, middle distance and a relay so most competitors are staying here until the 27th of December.

 

Before collapsing in my room I climbed up the hill behind the hostel to get a view of Kowloon.  The roof of the hostel is the building at the bottom right of the above picture.   I could see the water, but the photos don't show it.

 

This blog post has taken a while, so I'm going to finish up and go and get some dinner  - hopefully it won't be as busy as last night - there were long queues outside every one of the billion or so food places, so I eventually gave up and bought some cereal and milk from the supermarket!  

Hong Kong Day 2

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Hong Kong is so much quieter in the mornings than the evenings! After a truly awful breakfast (I'm pretty sure prison food would be nicer than the miserable plate of watery scrambled eggs, stone cold baked beans and pile of cold corn that comprised the 'free breakfast', I set out for Olympic House on Hong Kong Island.  I had to do a couple of train changes which were really confusing, and walk about a kilometer, but I made it on time which was a bit of a miracle. The first train was like those I've seen in Japan, where they have a dedicated people squisher pushing you on before the doors close.   As it turns out, it was absolutely nothing compared to the trains that I took getting home at the end of the day. The squish wasn't just on the train, it was in the station as well - it was so incredible. 

 

I was glad I'd done the trip earlier in the day as I at least had an idea of where I had to go to change platforms, there were so many people I would never have been able to read the signs.  

Back in my home suburb I took a few photos of the local shop cats before making my way the hostel...

 

It's been a long day..

Thursday, 20 December 2018

But I'm here.. well not there (below) exactly, that was somewhere we passed along the way. I took a local bus from the airport to the youth hostel to avoid having to do a train change.  It took a while (70 minutes!), and it seems that everyone else must have gotten up pretty early too as all the passengers around me fell asleep! 

 

After a short walk from the bus stop through busy streets and markets I dumped my stuff and went back out to find some dinner (noodles of course)

). 

That blurry photo is pretty much how my brain feels at the moment so it's definitely bed time for me! 

Heading to Hong Kong

Thursday, 20 December 2018

After a flurry of work stuff and home stuff and Christmas stuff I'm heading to Hong Kong for an orienteering related course. It's been a while since I've been there - I think Jon and I were there in the late 90s, so I'm thinking a few things will have changed!  Last time we were lucky enough to stay with Shirl and Tim in their fancy apartment in the Midlevels on Hong Kong Island. This time I'm in a not quite so fancy youthhostel on the Kowloon side. 

I'm using this trip to get to know my new device - a cute little Surface Go , so I have to come to terms with new photo editing software as well..

 

Christmas Tree

Sunday, 9 December 2018

As usual, the Christmas Tree we got from Seven Mile Beach..

turned out to be a bit too big for the living room..

From where I'm sitting it's looks pretty good anyway though..

 

Bangor Rogaine

Sunday, 2 December 2018

It's been a long time since I've done a rogaine. In fact I can't remember the last one - perhaps it was a mountain bike one I did in Victoria in the 90s, or maybe something in NSW.  I'm not normally a huge fan of rogaining - it's always seemed to me that they take a long time (6, 12 or 24 hours) and the large scale maps without accurate details can make the control locations a bit dodgy.  Route choices can also be a bit of a lottery as you might find yourself stuck in impassable vegetation or you might get a clear run - you can't tell from the map!

Having said that, there hasn't been much orienteering on lately, and after a few weekends of us all mooching around at home, I was keen to get out and do something, so a few days before the entries closed I tried to interest the family in attending this event. I had no takers until 11:45pm  on Tuesday night - 15 minutes before entries closed, when Jon suddenly decided that it would be fun.  And I'm so glad he did, as it was really fun.  Jon and I entered as a team and we entered Zali and Jett as their own team (once the organisers had conferred and decided that it would be ok for them to compete - they would normally need someone over 18 to be with anyone under 14).  Paul and Clare entered as a team as well. We were all doing the 6hr version, starting as noon Saturday and finishing at 6pm.  All the serious teams were planning to do 15 or 24 hours versions finishing around noon on Sunday.

Jon and I were a bit nervous about how Zali and Jett would take the news that we had entered them in a 6 hour endurance event while they slept, but they were totally fine about it, and in fact by the time we started, they were downright enthusiastic which was fantastic.   I think the fact that they would be able to make their own decisions for the entire day appealed to them (and of course they would be the masters of their own snack supplies).

So after work on Friday we headed to the Forestier Peninsula just near Dunally and set up camp in a field on a property called Bangor. There was just time to play a game of frisbee golf before setting down to bed.   

 

The view out of the tent on Saturday morning was great - sunny with blue skies - perfect for rogaining with just a hint of snake.   Once we were given our maps we had a leisurely 3 hours left to ready ourselves and plan our route. The key thing about any sort of score event, whether it's 45 minutes or 24 hours, is that you plan a route that can be cut short or extended near the end, depending on how you are going for time - the penalties for arriving even 10 seconds later are harsh, while arriving back with an hour to spare is simply wasteful!

It seems that Jon and I planned a totally different course to most others, as we had been out for almost 3 hours before we reached a control that another team had been to first (you had to write your team number and the time down on a sheet at the control when you got there - an activity which distracted us so much we almost forget to punch a number of times).  

 

Jon and I were really happy with our navigation all day, we only lost time when we struggled to spot the control flag - but generally we managed to be exactly where at least one of us thought we were at all times - which was great!  We traversed bushy hills and open fields, ran along tracks, jumped over steams and did a fair bit of bush bashing.  We saw 3 echidnas, 1 wombat, and a snake swimming across a dam.

 

Aside from trying to get the navigation right, our strategy was to walk all the uphill and rough bits, but where the vegetation allowed it, jog the flats and downhills - so whilst it was probably pretty slow for Jon (although he is recovering from his calf injury) we kept a really comfortable pace all day - it made it really enjoyable!

 

 

Since I last went rogaining the sport has created rules around the carrying of gps devices - basically you aren't allowed to have them with you.  If you want to take a phone, you have to seal it in a bag which was 'tamperproof' and if you used it on the course you were automatically disqualified. This was a bit of a pain, as firstly I would have liked to be able to check the kids were fine via text message a few times during the day, and secondly I would have texted Denny and asked her to feed the cat, as we forgot to arrange anything for her (don't worry she was fine).  

 

 

The second half of our race contained the bigger hills, and our route had us climbing up Mt Forestier, the highest point on the map, with 90 minutes left to go.  Our elation at making it to the high scoring control at the top swiftly turned to concern as found our route down was pretty thick and horrible. Luckily it wasn't our un-doing and we ended up having enough time left to try to get a few of the bonus controls we'd saved until the end.

 

 

 

We reached our last control with 20 minutes to go, and after some discussion we decided we didn't really have time to try for one more (well I decided that, as one of my lasting memories from a previous rogaine is having to run 5k flat out to the finish after 8 hours of running, and the whole experience was really unpleasant).   This time we had a nice relaxing walk back and arrived with 10 minutes to spare  - pretty perfect!

Once we checked in we  looked around nervously for Zali and Jett as we really had no idea how they would go - we had both thought they might come back really early, so it was a bit of a surprise that there was no sign of them.    But with 2 minutes to go they suddenly appeared galloping down the track towards the finish. They had to run pretty hard but they made it with 30 seconds to spare - pretty amazing timing!    

 

They were both exhausted and relieved to be back - it seems they had a few problems in the 2nd part of their course. Amongst other things they'd lost Jett's compass and retraced their steps to try to find it (to no avail). They'd also lost their 2 pencils (for signing at the controls), so had to do it with charcoal they found on the ground, and there were a few controls they hadn't been able to find which they were dissappointed about.    Despite all of that we are so proud of them -  they covered 22 kilometres and finished right on time, what a pair of champions!    Jon and I did 26kms, so it wasn't that really that much more.  Ultimately Clare and Paul won the day with 1000 points, Jon and I were 2nd on 900.  

Driving home the kids were pretty sure they wouldn't be signing up for another event, but with a good nights sleep  in them they have both mentioned today that they might like to try the 15 hour event next time (there's nothing scheduled until late next year), so that's pretty cool! I think they would have learnt a lot from this event (not least to keep track of their stuff), so they will certainly be a formidable team the next time around!  And how cool is it that we can give them a map and send them confidently out  into forest for 6 hours!  So proud.

 

Halloween Orienteering

Sunday, 25 November 2018

It's a few weeks ago now, but the kids were course setters for a twilight series orienteering event which happened to co-incide with Halloween. 

 

So they got to give competitors some extra fun with rubber snakes, plastic spiders and a scattering of bones around the control sites. 

Pinto

Sunday, 25 November 2018

The forecast for the next week isn't very good so I expect Pinto will be spending a lot of time in her favourite wet-weather retreat - her hammock.

 

 I'm not sure she realises how much stress the tower is under when she is in it.  

 

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