Friday, 15 September 2017
This is Jett playing the golf-playing patriach of the Hare family in the combined class production of Zoom (an unusual take on the Hare and Tortoise story). The play was an epic production, featuring a whole lot of catchy songs and going for a whopping 90 minutes. The class managed 4 performances in 2 days, including performing for 3 other schools who were bussed in. Very impressive.
The Queens Domain is a big area of parkland and bush right next to the city. Normally the only time I run there is when we're doing an orienteering race, so I must admit my head is down and I rarely take the time to enjoy the view.
Today the kids did a refereeing introductory course at the Aquatic Centre, adding 1.5 hours to the already long night we had planned, so despite having a bit of a cold, I went out for a run and it was really lovely.
Wednesday, 13 September 2017
In 1993 I was living in Melbourne and in the first year of my IT degree at Swinburne. One weekend my brother Paul, friends Andy and Rob, and I, decided to drive out of town to do some orienteering training in the beautiful gold mining terrain that Ballarat had in abundance. I was carrying some sort of injury, so my plan was to just walk around the area while the others did their own training course.
Or first plan was to find something to put down into the hole so the koala had something to climb out on. Luckily there was a long branch lying on the ground not too far away so we carried it over and gently lowered it down.
The koala just looked at it, and up at us, as if we were stupid. It was a narrow branch, so we were afraid that it was too thin for the koala to use. We needed another plan.
After enduring several rock showers, Rob tossed the towel over the koala. It was quite a small towel, and quite a large koala, so the end result was a bewildered koala with a towel on its head. It was a this point that the koala obviously decided that the thought of spending the rest of its days stuck in a mineshaft with Rob and a bunch of morons kicking stones onto its head was too much, so it threw off the towel and proceeded to climb up the branch we’d put in there first. Rob isn't visible in these photos but that is who the koala is looking at..
The branch was so flimsy that Paul had to hold onto it to keep from swinging around like a pole vault.
For a moment I was afraid it was going to keep climbing to the top of the branch and then gouge out Paul's eyes - luckily it decided to leap onto the ground as soon as it possibly could then head for the nearest tree.
Once safely ensconced high in the branches it embarked on an arial assault of sticks and scary sounding growls.
Meanwhile our heros hauled Rob out of the ground and we all drove back to Melbourne hardly able to believe the surreal events of the day. I'm not sure how long the life-span of a koala is, but I'd hazard a guess that it still hates us now, almost 25 years later - it certainly hasn't sent us a thank you card.
Today I took Jett to school then went for a run in Peter Murrell Reserve.
About 3 minutes into the run I came across an unhappy looking large pink bird called a Galah standing in the middle of the track. He/she was trying to get away from me but every time it tried to fly it just did a small circle and landed again - one of its wings was clearly injured and there was blood all over its body. Poor bird. This is what Galahs look like when they aren't injured and angry..
I wasn't quite sure what to do but I didn't have a very long run planned, so I carefully edged my way past as the bird jumped up and down angrily and squarked at me. I continued on my run, both planning the steps I'd take if the bird was still there when I got back, while also hoping the bird would have miraculously healed itself and flown away. As I ran I couldn't resist a few photos as although it was an overcast day - the views of Sleeping Beauty and Mt Wellington were lovely.
It was no surprise to see the bird in pretty much the same spot when I got back, although it had managed to get up onto a nice perch. Having had a good half an hour to think about what to do, and resigning myself to the fact that I was going to have to take off my shirt in order to catch it, I enacted my plan and started with step 1 - ring the Bonorong Wildlife Rescue hotline. The guy there gave me some tips for catching the bird then he rang ahead to a nearby vet that I could drop the bird off at. After I got off the phone I took this video:
So I scrambled across the creek to find the man who I had seen get out of a police car and go into the industrial block about 100 metres away. Unfortunately it took me a while to find him - I had to visit a kitchen centre, a gym (the guy there thought I was his new customer arriving for his PT session - luckily we straightened that out quickly!), and a mechanics place. It was a bit weird for everyone having a sweaty person come in and ask if a policeman was there. After I explained my story to the gym guy, he gave me an old t-shirt to wrap the bird in, which was really nice of him and a relief for me! I eventually found the police guy in the mechanics place - he was getting his own car serviced so he was out of uniform, but he was appropriately attired in a westpac rescue hoody. He was off-duty but was willing to help me catch the bird, so armed with a pair of thick gloves (from the mechanic), and the t-shirt from the gym, we went back over the creek and managed to catch the bird quickly - it couldn't fly but it could certainly complain very loudly!
The policeman (Josh), then handed me the bird and went back to his business, so I wasn't able to take any more photos or video from that point as I needed both hands to keep the bird contained. I still had to walk about 400 metres back to the car with the bird screaming blue murder from its swaddled position in the t-shirt. It was bearable for the first 200 metres but then the bird realised that it could nip my fingers, so the 2nd 200 metres was even less pleasant than the first. Once I got to the car I realised that I couldn't get the keys out of my pocket without losing the bird so I had to walk on to another different mechanics place to beg for a box. Once again they were happy to oblige, especially as it meant the sweaty person carrying a blood soaked squarking t-shirt would leave their place of business.
With the bird safely placed in an old wine box, I got us into the car and drove the few minutes down the road to the vet where upon all 3 large dogs in the waiting room were shocked into silence from the massive amount of decibels the bird was able to emit as I carried it up to the front desk. Not surprisingly check-in was quick and the bird was taken away for assessment and I was able to leave.
I hope it's ok - it definitely had a broken wing and it had lost a lot of blood. If it doesn't survive, at least it won't have had to suffer for days while it starved to death or got mauled by another creature. And I'm really glad that the Bonorong hotline was there. As it happens my brother has donated his football tipping winnings to that organisation recently so I can reassure him that it has gone to a very good cause. I remember trying to rescue a kookaburra in Lane Cove once, and being so relieved that I could call the local Wildlife Rescue organisation WIRES to find out what to do. After that experience I became a financial member of them for a few years. They are all good people doing good things.
My only other significant wildlife rescue was the time that we rescued a koala from a mine shaft somewhere near Ballarat many years ago. It was such a funny experience that I remember almost every moment of it quite clearly including the part when the rescued koala promptly climbed a nearby tree and threw sticks and growled at us brave and courageous rescuers (really!). Like the Galah, it wasn't very grateful.
Wednesday, 6 September 2017
It wasn't so long ago (2 years actually), that this was the vegetarian main course at a $110 per plate dinner at Wrest Point Casino.
It was a pretty lazy effort - basically it was the regular main course, minus the meat. It was..
So I was heartened to see these magazines as I waited in the line at the supermarket today :
In case you can't spot them, these are the particular magazines I noticed..
I used to subscribe to Delicious, but I ended my subscription because they only ever had a few vegetarian dishes each issue and they invariably included ingredients I'd never heard of let alone seen at a regular supermarket. So to see a whole issue of vegetarian recipes from both Gourmet and Delicious magazines is great !
Saturday, 2 September 2017
Now that the troublesome rangehood is installed I can finally post photos of the finished kitchen. The rest of it was finished about 4 weeks ago so it has actually been in use for a while now!
Just as a recap, our old kitchen was essentially sound, but in need of an update. So my plan was to keep the below-bench carcasses, replace the bench top, oven tower, overhead cupboards, and also to install a new unit surrounding the fridge.
Aside from the range hood (which came out of its box looking like it had fallen off the production line and rolled down a long set of concrete steps) everything went smoothly.
The most nerve-wracking part was the installation of the bench top. Unlike more modern base cabinets which have legs that can be individually adjusted, the existing cabinets are built on wooden plinths, This means they are a lot stronger, but a lot less adjustable. There was a 2mm fall along the long length of the bench area which is apparently a big deal when it comes to stone. The other complication was the fact that I was keeping the glass splash back - so they had to slide in the bench top underneath the glass (rather than drop it down from above). Knowing this would be tricky we (me and Ezikit) ordered a bench top that was 3mm thinner than the old laminexr top, just to allow a bit of wiggle room, but it was still going to be a challenge. There was about a week between the finishing of the building and the installation of the bench during which I fretted constantly about it not being able to be installed, and worried about having to cancel the other trades who were dependant the bench top already being installed.
Much to my relief, the installation team of 3 guys were all really nice and appeared to be completely competent. After much huffing and grumbling about the situation when they arrived (they hadn’t really been briefed by Ezikit before they came), they went off to get the extra batons and packers that would be required and ended up doing what seemed like a solid job. It took about 3 hours al ltogether, during which time I sat nervously on the couch.
The next day the cooktop got connected which left just the plumbing of the kitchen sink which took another few days before I could get anyone in to do it.
All in all it took 13 days from the day I started demolition until the day it was finished (aside from the range hood). This included 3.5 days of building & installation, 3 visits by the electrician, 1 visit from a plumber. 1023 visits to Bunnings and Mitre 10.
And the costs? Well the appliances were about $4000 (double oven, sink, range hood, induction cooktop). The ceasarstone bench top was $4200 including installation. The new overhead cupboards, drawers, oven tower and fronts for all the old cupboards were $6000. I spent an extra $200 on ceiling and wall paint, plus extra money on replacing the daggy kitchen and outdoor lights since the electrician was around anyway installing powerpoint and moving light switches for the kitchen. In fact it was great to get a whole lot of other electrical stuff fixed up during this process. Until now the pantry light hadn’t worked for years, the kids new ikea lights have finally been installed, and some other broken switches have been replaced. All the stuff you live with because it’s such a hassle and expense to get someone around.
Anyway - by the time we’ve paid the electrician, plumber and builder’s bills which are still to arrive, we’ll be at around 18k I think. Whilst we’d originally planned that I’d be back at work and earning money before we started this project it turned out that I really needed to be around for the entirety of the 2 weeks to wait for tradesmen and supervise the building. If I hadn’t been thereI would have arrived home to see the cupboards installed at the wrong height, handles put in where we didn’t want them, and all sorts of other little issues would have been harder to resolve. It’s lucky that both the builder and bench installers had a good relationship with Eikit as we needed extra pieces of the woodwork to be made on the fly, and the installers needed to borrow some of their specialised tools for the installation. Needless to say I would have been absolutely stuffed if I’d tried to the installation imyself.
My favourite parts of the new kitchen are the charging station, which is tidily hidden away into a little alcove next to the fridge:
and the 'secret' cupboard which stores all the extra stuff we need for family dinner every fortnight, which previously had no-where to go apart from the games room or in very high cupboards I couldn't reach.
Also i'm really happy with the hardwood cladding I did around the side of the bench. I wanted to add something to the design to make it look slightly different to a regular kit-kitchen. And it was fun to do it myself (with my new nail gun!)
I really love the induction cooktop - it's so fast! and I really like the top oven - it's great for cooking smallish items and it preheats really fast. I'm still coming to terms with the larger bottom oven - mostly it's been fine but I managed to cook a burnt-on-top yet dry yet undercooked lemon and poppyseed cake in it last week - so clearly more practise is required!
With the rangehood finally arrving yesterday I was able to cover the hole left by the old rangehood with the acrylic sheet I had custom cut for me. It's a bit odd, but a much better solution than buying and installing a whole new piece of glass.
So all up it was a good experience. I'm so glad we've done it. I'd like to update the stools in the not-to-distant future - I've got my eye on a nice set, but for the now old ikea ones will have to do!
Thursday, 31 August 2017
With good weaher forecast, and it having been a while since the last time, I decided an adventure hike was in order for today.
After coaxing Clare to join me, we took the 9am ferry over to Bruny Island and headed to Cloudy Bay, a place neither of us had been before. Although, due to navagational negligence we actually headed to Cape Bruny and only woke up to our mistake when we reached the lookout which had lovely views across the water to...East Cloudy Head. Dang! Luckily correcting our mistake didn't take too long, so we were heading down the beach by 10:45.
Although the tide was out we immediately got our feet wet attempting to jump across a fast flowing inlet, but as the beach was pretty long (3k!) our shoes had a fair bit of time to dry out before we reached the delightful campsite at the far end.
From there we climbed up and up, getting good views of the sea on both sides of the headland
The photos don't show it, but we could also see lots of snow covered peaks to our west - a fantastic sight! All up the run/hike was just under 14k and took us almost exactly 2 hours.
After we returned to the car we grabbed our picnic lunch and walked in the other direction around to the popular surfing beach. The little trail was a mix of smooth sea rock paving and a raised wooden walkway which made it really lovely. There was a really nice platform which I can imagine the surfers gathering on in summer. For us we had a great place to have lunch and watch the one lone surfer braving the pretty big waves.
Then it was time to head home via the Bruny Island Cheese Company for a hot chocolate and some beer (for Clare). A fun day out.
Monday, 14 August 2017
We are just back from a a wekend in Burnie and Launceston for orienteering. The weather was much better than predicted and we had a great time. We had 2 sprint races around Burnie on Saturday where Zali and Jett picked up $6 each in splits-cash and I learnt never to eat a vanilla slice less than an hour before a sprint race. The race on Sunday was the Northern Classic which was held on bushy farmland just outside of Evandale. On the very first leg of my race I made the most costly mistake (time-wise) I've made in years. After running right on the red-line for most of the leg, I suddenly decided to follow my nose rather than my compass and consequently I ended up at wrong distinctive tree. Then I faffed around so much I ended up under the normally-useful clue description, which in this case was not useful at all.
I eventually decided just to relocate from the top of the hill and from there I was able to work it out and go straight back to the control - it took me over 20 minutes for this leg! Whilst I was under the clue-descriptions I came across a few features on the ground (root mounds, thickets..) which I couldn't find on the map, it was only after I relocated that I realised how far from the control I actually was, and thus why I couldn't find any of those features on my map! ha.
Wednesday, 9 August 2017
I thought I would be back at work from Monday, but I've suddenly got an extra two weeks before that happens so aside from being able to co-ordinate the final few jobs in the kitchen, I've also had time to do a few more things around the house including hanging up the cool hooks Zali made at school...
and painting the walls and ceiling of the kitching/dining/living area. It looks great now, but it didn't go completely smoothly..that's a lovely trail of white paint there.
I first painted the walls in this area when we moved in a bit over 10 years ago. Back then I used Dulux Spanish Cream Quarter to create a warm feeling in the room. This time I've used a brighter white called Dulux Natural White. It looks great with the paintings and new kitchen cupboards. And it's also lovely to have the ceiling painted and looking brand new as it's taken a hammering from overly-tall christmas trees, various light installation and removals, and other damage since the house was first built. Prepping and painting the ceiling was hard though - I cut my hand up while I was washing the ceiling when I stepped down from the step ladder onto the wet floor in my ugg boots and skidded so fast that I hit the floor with quite a thud. As I know how hard it was to paint, anyone found damaging the walls or ceiling will find themselves doing an extra coat as I've got lots of paint left over! Jon is probably the person most in danger of such a punishment, he's already been implicated in such crimes as the "double-sided stickytape on the ceiling incident (note double sided stickytape and its residue NEVER comes off), as well as the more recent 'new-holes-in'the-ceiling-for-the-novelty-light' incident. He will be under surveillance.
The other job I've done in this first bonus week is to finally finish the doorstep. I took the metal strip thing off it years ago with the intention of sanding it back and re-varnishing it but it took until recently when I borrowed Clare's dad's 'Fesstool thing, which sucks the dust away as you sand. It was invaluable when I did the walls in the bedroom, and I've since used it for the windowsills in the kitchen (I didn't want everything around it to look great while the windowsill was all black and waterdamaged). In fact it was so good that I also moved onto the ones in the kids room, then eventually addressed the doorstep. Yesterday I finally attached the new metal thing on and adjusted the door so it will be draught-less - yay!
My foot was a little sore last week and I was pretty busy with the kitchen installation anyway so I haven't been out for any adventure hikes recently. However I did manage a run in my local trail running area (Peter Murrell Reserve) yesterday. After about half an hour I stopped for a moment to fiddle with my phone and noticed a track I hadn't seen before, so I decided to investigate, and it was great! It ran the length of the park and the vegetation was a different to the rest of the park - it was really pretty. The photos don't really do it justice but as you can see I was pretty excited by my discovery!
I thought last Thursday would be my last chance to do something after school with the kids for a while (turned out it wasn't but more on that later), so we went bowling and it was great fun. Aside from the fact that we had the alley pretty much to ourselves, the kids just are so awesome to do stuff with. They are funny, surprisingly competant at bowling and they get on so well. It's a delight to hang out with them.
The only bad thing about was that I didn't win either round. Hmmph. Jett came from behind with a last round spare to steal the win from me in game 1, and in game 2 Zali was too good for both of us.
Tuesday, 1 August 2017
After assembling the 12 drawers and 5 base cabinets, and thus reaching the extent of my cabinet making abilities I've turned my attention to a bit of re-use work in the laundry.
So while the real-life builder is busy doing all the tricky things like attaching stuff to the wall, putting on cupboard handles without drilling 58 holes all of which are in the wrong place (as is my want), and generally dealing with all the issues I would never be able to solve (unless the solution involved drilling a lot of holes), I've been deconstructing and reconstructing the old drawers so that they fit into the existing dodgy shelving I added into the laundry a few years ago. Not only is it good to not chuck out absolutely everything, it's going to make my tool storage area a lot more spacious..
so behold the before (left) and after (right)..
I've been busy (and dusty) in the last week or so, doing as much demolition as I can in preparation for the kitchen updates. We're keeping most of the cabinet carcasses but removing doors, drawers and other stuff, as well as putting in new cabinets surrounding the fridge.
Yesterday I loaded all the rubbish into the trailer and took it to the tip. There I was directed to unloaded it onto the wood pile, which was littered with everyone elses' 25 year old tas-oak veneer kitchen cabinets.
I guess when it's time, it's time.
My next job is to build the gadzillions of flatpacks that are waiting enticingly for me on the floor..
Wednesday, 26 July 2017
The weather on the last day of our hike couldn’t have looked more beautiful - it was amazing to think it is the middle of winter! We set off down Wineglass Bay beach with perfect blue skies above us.
and Jon couldn't have been happier about the fact his pack weighed 9kg less than the day before!
Look at the amazing colours in this photo taken on the isthmus..
and look how big the kids have got since our very first overnight hike - also to Wineglass Bay, back in October 2013..they've done a lot of hiking since then!
Hazards Beach also looked lovely..
We had plenty of time to stop on the last day, so we did! I wish I had got more group photos from the other days - we had a great time together and we got amazing weather.
All too soon we were back at the carpark with nothing but reality and a stop at the Swansea Bakehouse to look forward to!
As the only one who had really examined the map before the hike, I was probably the only person who harboured grave concerns about day 2. In fact my original itinerary for this trip was to just walk the 4 flat kilometre stretch from Cooks Beach to the Hazards Beach camping site on the second day. However when I had described this plan to Clare she pointed out that it would have been a bit lame to just do that. So the plan was changed to going over Mt Freycinet and Mt Graham to the Wineglass Bay campsite instead. It’s not that the distance was that far - although it was 14 kilometres, or that steep - although it would involve going from sea level to 620 metres, it was that our packs would be heavy. Really really heavy. The reason for this is that there isn’t a water tank at Wineglass Bay and we would have to carry our water for the next two days. I’m not sure of the reasoning for the lack of a tank - I suspect the Parks department don’t want to encourage too many people to camp there - which, given the rather messy condition of the site when we got there, is probably a good thing.
Anyway, as we set off at 9:45, my pack was second in weight only to the last time I camped at Wineglass Bay when it was just Jett and I and we stayed for two nights. For that trip I had all our gear and food for two days, plus 6 litres of water. This time I had a tent, just (!) 4 litres of water, and probably a third of the food for four of us for the remaining 1 and a half days. My pack was heavy, but not has heavy as Jon’s - he was carrying 10 litres of water, a tent, and the rest of the food - 28kilos all up. Zali and Jett both had their normal packs with all their own clothes and camping equipment except for the tent, plus about 1.5 litres of water each.
The profile of the day's walk
Whilst it was still windy, the weather was pretty good as we headed down Cooks Beach.
Our first challenge was to get up to Freycinet Saddle. After a few rest stops we made it by 12:30pm.
There we happily ditched our packs and climbed the rest of the way up Mt Freycinet. I’d never been up there before so it was good to finally make it! It was a shame that we didn't get any group photos from the top but we all seemed to arrive at different times. It took just over half an hour to get to the summit.
After lunch back at the saddle we then faced the second major challenge of the day - we had to get over Mt Graham with full packs and already tired legs. It was a hard climb, every step with those heavy packs was a strain! I can’t imagine how Jon did it but he managed to keep a steady pace and a smile the whole day. The hardest bit probably only took us about 30 minutes but it was a huge relief to make it. I must mention that both Annabelle and Chloe did really well - their packs were at least as heavy as Zali and Jett’s, and aside from a few problems with blisters they didn’t struggle at all - they were excellent hikers! I’m glad Zali and Jett didn’t have much trouble either as I wouldn’t have had the spare energy to convince them to keep going!
Once over Mt Graham we had the downhill stretch to Wineglass Bay to go - that's it in the distance below.
Although it was only about 5-6kms from Mt Graham, the trail is pretty rough so none of it was particularly easy hiking. Nevertheless with a few stops and a steady pace we made it down to the beach just as the sun was setting! It had been a long day!
It got dark so quickly after we arrived that I didn't get any good campsite photos but we had a nice little spot nestled in the trees. Dinner was a relatively uninspiring and messy re-hydrated laksa for us, and a more enticing looking pasta for Jo's subgroup. After a long day it was lovely to snuggle into my sleeping bag on my new super-comfy thermarest and think about how the next day was going to be easy compared to what we'd done!