Saturday, 28 December 2019
I've been to KI at least 10 times I reckon now, so it's not always easy to find something new to do, but today we did just that.
First up we all went for a run though. The kids and Jon all did their own things (the kids sticking to their bargain of doing 3 runs a week until we go to NZ in a month) while I ran up one of the relatively new tracks to the top of the ridge then along the road past the fields of hay rolls - it's been a bumper year for the KI farmers apparently with the rain coming at just the right time. It's a nice run with lots of better views than this but I didn't stop to take many photos.
Afterwards we had breakfast, made lunch, then drove down to Vivonne Bay (in Jon's mum's fancy new car), and went on a self guided kayak tip up the Harriet River. I was in two minds about booking this last night as it seemed pretty pricey for 2 sit-on-top kayaks but it was really good fun so I'm glad we did it.
I didn't even realise there was a viable river that on the whole of the island so that was quite a surprise! It was also a surprise to go past a koala sitting in the water having a drink. All up we spotted about 10 koalas, lots of birds and one large kangaroo on our 2.5 hour trip.
We paddled about 4km upstream until the river got quite narrow and we got quite hungry - so we turned and headed back to the car and our sandwiches!
It was great weather for kayaking although we now seem to all be sporting odd spots of missed sunscreen patches on our bodies!
Back at home we spent the rest of the afternoon doing a puzzle and other sedentary activities.
Friday, 27 December 2019
After the usual full-on McComb Family Christmas in Adelaide, we're now on KI, enjoying slightly cooler (but still hot) weather, and the usual beautiful landscapes and hospitality.
Today we revisited a few of our favourite stops. Firstly we climbed Prospect Hill, which we haven't done for many years as the stairs were closed. They have now been replaced and are looking good.
Then we continued to Flour Cask Bay, which is a spectacular beach but it's always particularly fun at low tide when the holes in the limestone rocks funnel water into spouts and the waves crash onto them.
From there we bee-lined it to Clifford's Honey Farm where we had some delicious honey icecream and forced the kids to take part in this photo:
If I searched hard enough I'm sure I could find a similar photo of the kids but when they didn't need to practically bend double to squeeze their big head through the holes.
In the afternoon we worked on a puzzle then wandered down to the local beach for some paddling and frisbee.
Monday, 23 December 2019
Over the last month or so I've been working out how to make sourdough bread. I was inspired by our friend Rob who makes bread for himself in Japan, then keeps making it when he goes places (like Tasmania) on mapping assignments. Sourdough bread making is a surprisingly long process, but now I've got the hang of it, it's not actually very difficult - it just takes time. For example, I started the three loaves I baked this morning (Monday), on Saturday night.
I started the 'starter' from scratch with just flour and water (as per the instructions on the SBS website) and promptly killed the first one by mis-feading him almost straight away (R.I.P Ned), but the next one - Fred - is going very well. My first few loaves were quite doughy but they've steadily improved since then and now they have suddenly hit completely-delicious status. I've been sticking with the SBS instructions and using their plain loaf recipe mostly (although I've done some wholegrain ones as well which have also been good).
We are heading away for a week, so I've split Fred up and put him in the fridge as well as in the freezer. I'm hoping that one form of him is able to survive (or be revived) so we can make some more.
It amazes me that these delicious loaves of bread are made of plain flour, salt and water.
Sunday, 22 December 2019
A few days ago Zali discovered my supply of polymer clay. I last used it to make some pirate stuff for Jett's birthday party. Those crafty party jobs were fun - I miss them already.
Anyway - once Zali discovered the clay she was immersed in making tiny earrings for the next few days. We've even had to go to spotlight to get 5 more colours.
Now we have more pairs of earrings than people we know who have ears.
Saturday, 21 December 2019
This year Jon was devastated to discover that we are no longer able to legally cut our own tree from Seven Mile Beach. He's taken it hard and has even mentioned that it's taken the gloss off his whole Tasmanian life which is somewhat worrying. So while Jon barricaded himself into a darkened room to grieve the end of our family tradition (and possibly pack his bags), Jason, Clare and I went out for a run.
While we were out we found a community garden that was selling trees for just $10. We started to rifle through the trees just as rain started to pour down which made the whole experience even more memorable. After selecting what we thought was the best and leaving Jason's $10 in the honesty box, we attached the tree to the roof and brought it home (getting completely soaked in the process). We left it outside so Jon and the kids could get a nice surprise when they returned from the darkness & school respectively.
Instead of the accolades we were expecting (and deserved), Jason and I (with our hair still wet from the rain storm probably) received a series of complaints from people about the size and volume of our tree. hmmph. In the end though, beggars couldn't be choosers and once the tree was inside and decorated it looked quite fine. Sure it didn't touch the roof, or have enough branches for all the decorations, but it looks good.
One of the things which has definitely helped the overall look of the tree is that Zali has painted some new baubles to hang. They look very nice..
In fact she's been on quite the arty & crafty roll lately. Not only has she painted the baubles but she did lots of painting of cards and present tags with me which was fun.
Also once news spread that we weren't having crackers at our christmas brunch (due to environmental concerns) she made a full set of christmas crackers from reused household items with lindt balls inside which I think we will all agree is a much better prize than the usual stuff. Of course this meant that quite a few of our rolls of things (wrapping paper, baking paper, al foil), had to be unrolled so that the inside tubes could be removed and re-used. I'm sure our house sitters will wonder what on earth happened to the al foil.
Thursday, 19 December 2019
Today was Zali's last day of high school - it seems to have gone by so fast!
She wouldn't let me take a proper photo of her in the morning so this is the best I've got as we approached the assembly hall.
At the end of the final assembly it's traditional for the Grade 10s to be clapped by everyone as they leave the hall for the last time (mirroring the way the Grade 7s are welcomed into the hall for the first time at the start of the year). I hope the digital screen is not a reflection of their academic achievements.
Sunday, 15 December 2019
To lighten the mood, here's a cake Zali made a week or so ago for her ETO teacher (exploring the ocean). Zali would be a good student to have in your class for this reason alone. I'll be outraged if she doesn't get an A. :)
We spent the afternoon in an olive grove outside of Launceston, celebrating the life of a lovely young orienteer. Her mum said she had always planned to have her 21st in this place, but because of ongoing cancer treatment in Melbourne she couldn't. She was only 22.
Back in the south we learned that a very dear family friend and lifetime buddy of mums is very close to leaving too. Cancer sucks.
Saturday, 14 December 2019
I'm sure that Zali only just started high school, but now it seems she's just days away from leaving. Amazing. Anyway the grade 10s had their formal at the Grand Chancellor the other night.
We couldn't convince her to go to the hair dresser but despite that her hair looked better than mine at my grade 10 formal:
Although that wasn't the worst haircut I had during my teenage years. In other interesting observations, Zali's dress cost about $50. Mine cost about $90 in eighties dollars (and the one I really wanted was $120). It's incredible how cheap clothes have become.
Saturday, 7 December 2019
I seem to spend most of my days at the moment either teaching orienteering to primary school students, or doing orienteering related stuff. This week the Schools Relay event which I've been planning all year finally happened. With the help of lots of volunteers we managed to get all 30 kids all around their courses without too many mistakes or mishaps. They looked like they all enjoyed it so next year we'll try to grow the event even more.
I've spent the last few days in St Helens with Clare checking out some stuff for next year's Australian Championships. Actually we only spent half a day checking stuff out. We spent the other 1.5 days checking out the new mountain bike trails, which were totally awesome.
On the first day we rode some of the loops at the Flagstaff trailhead. This was the first time I'd ridden my bike for ages, so it was a great way to get back into it. The loops were pretty easy and very fun and the facilities at the trailhead were pretty impressive. Nice toilets, a cafe and a bike wash station. Afterwards I rode back to town while Clare drove the car back. It was a lovely 4k descent to the edge of St Helens then a 3 k cruise back to where we were staying with Rob. I would have more photos but my phone went flat.
Today we rode the 2nd part of the trail which comes all the way from Derby. Our part was 22kms and started on the Ansons Bay Road and ended at the beach. Most of the descending comes in the part we didn't do, so we had a good 16 or so kms of flat and gentle climbing before we got to swoosh down the final hills. It was fantastic fun and generally not too scary - in fact I was able to ride all the features which was awesome. The views were lovely and the forest was georgous - but we knew that already from our orienteering/rogaining adventures around here.
Our adventure wouldn't have been possible if Rob hadn't kindly dropped us off at one end and picked us up at the beach at the other. Thanks Rob!
St Helens has always been nice but with all these new trails it is even more awesome.
Two weeks ago we went to Adelaide for the wedding of Jon's nephew Bryn. It was a lovely evening and the venue was beautiful.
We weren't allowed to take photos during the ceremony. Which immediately made it the thing I most wanted to do in the whole world. So I did.
Amazingly I wasn't dragged away by the wedding police so we were able to stay and enjoy the nice views while we passed the time between the ceremony and reception (2.5 hours!). This is Jon, his mum and his brothers and sisters. Jon is the youngest.
Zali and Jett both had new clothes for the occasion, so they both looked very fancy.
The rest of our Adelaide weekend was spent hanging out with family and consuming vast quantities of food. To try to compensate for this I went for a few runs in the National Park as well. It was very nice.
Monday, 11 November 2019
We're not hugely into rogaining (a very long version of orienteering) but as the Australasian Rogaining Championships were being held in lovely St Helens and most of the organisers were also orienteers we could hardly not go to this event. We had enjoyed the last event we went to about a year ago - admittedly it was just 6 hours long though!
This time we were entered in the 24 hour championship class. Zali and Jett were doing it together as the only under 23 team entered, and Jon and I were a team in the very competitive mixed veterans class. This meant we had 24 hours to visit as many checkpoints as we wanted and we could rest for as little or much as we wanted in the night. As we're not very serious we'd already decided we would definitely be returning to our tents to sleep before heading out again in the morning. Paul's team (and many others) were planning to stay out all night.
At a rogaining event you are given your map 3 hours before the event officially starts, which seems like ages but by the time you've made a vague plan, packed your gear and lodged all your safety paperwork it's time to go! Zali and Jett planned their own route while we worked on ours.
Making snack bags
Jon doing some measuring with string
about to start
Once we started Jon and I were amongst a big group of teams making our way through the bush to the close controls but as people chose their own routes or fell behind they gradually dropped out of sight. By about the 4th control we were all by ourselves doing our own thing. Zali and Jett had chosen a similar route to start with but we weren't exactly sure what their plans were after that so it was a delight to bump into them on a hill about 2.5 hours after we started.
They had already had lunch (I think they stopped about 10 minutes after they started!) so we farewelled them and sat down for our own lunch.
It was at this point that Jon got out his measuring string and told me that we had around 30k to go before we would make it to the All-Night-Cafe, which in turn was still at least 10k from our tents.
That was actually more information than I really wanted and I came to the realisation that our day was going to be a lot longer than I thought (I imagined us getting back to home base at about 10pm) so I started to feel a bit down. But once we cleared a few more controls, including ascending and descending a giant rocky hill, I started to feel more positive about it all and we were having a nice time together as went along. We also had a few easier track routes to look forward too which were quite pleasant going. Generally the forest was pretty nice and there were lots of spring flowers out.
At 6pm the All-Night-Cafe opened - we were still a long way away from it, but we joked to ourselves that Zali and Jett, keen for some free cake, would certainly have been waiting outside the door for it to open. So it was a pleasant surprise when we finally made it there just as it was getting dark and found Zali and Jett sitting together on one of the couches in front of the fire eating toasted sandwiches! They had executed their route pretty much as planned but it had taken a bit longer than expected so they had only just arrived. After being waited on kindly by the bemused Lions Club volunteers (I had a toasted sandwich, soup, & cake) we all put on head torches, re-filled water, put on all our warm clothes and headed out into the dark to find some more controls on our way back to home base. The kids had chosen a relatively straight forward route by the main road, and we had a more complex one where we had to go back into the hilly forest to visit 3 controls before getting out onto the road to finish off the last few controls.
The All Night Cafe
The first part of our forest leg involved crossing a thigh deep creek so we decided to stay as dry as possible by crossing in bare feet and rolling up our tights. It was pretty cold by then so we tried to dry our sandy feet and get going as quickly as possible once we made it to the other side. As we stood up Jon realised he didn't have his compass. Uh Oh. It wasn't with us, which meant it had to be on the other side - aargh! Just as he was preparing to cross back to search for it, a team we'd just crossed paths with minutes earlier re-appeared on the other creek bank - they'd found Jon's compass and kindly took it back to the crossing point where they left it for Jon. So after some shouted gratitude he was back into the freezing water for another round trip! Not an ideal start but other than that our forest leg went smoothly, in fact it went really well due to Jon's great navigation our our excellent headlights. Having covered almost 40k by that point we were getting pretty tired by the time we made it out to the road for the final stretch. As we neared the last few controls we noticed we were catching up to Zali and Jett who were travelling with Clare's team by then (Clare found them having a rest by the side of the road and suggested they do the last few controls together which was great). We knew were getting close because as well as punching the control, you write your team number and the time onto a paper sheet stuck to each control. We got to the last control 6 minutes behind them, and we just had to get down a steep hill through some thick bits of vegetation and we'd pop out onto a road near home base. It wasn't an easy leg but we made it back and to our surprise we'd somehow overtaken both Zali & Jett and Clare's team who took a less than ideal route and actually spent an extra 30 minutes bashing through thick scrub. - poor them! So we arrived back around midnight, and Zali & Jett made it back half an hour later.
Needless to say we all went to bed pretty much straight away despite the free food & drinks on offer at the base camp.
The next morning Jon and I got up at 6.30, had a quick breakfast and dragged our tired and sore bodies out again just after 7. We left the kids to sleep as we figured they'd done enough. As we headed out we noticed a few bedraggled looking teams coming in from a long night - including Clare's dad's team who had had some navigational problems and decided just to lie down and rest for a few hours somewhere in the forest. They were so tough they were just coming in for breakfast before going back out to do some more controls - very hard core!
We did a nice loop around Humbug Point in the sunshine but I'm actually a bit disappointed we didn't make it out earlier as we didn't have time to do what would have been the most scenic parts of the course. Although realistically my legs wouldn't have managed much more distance - they were really sore and while the track sections were ok, walking in the bush and climbing over logs and rocks was really painful!
We executed our cut-down plan pretty well and returned to check in a comfortable 45 minutes before the cut off time - perfect! I've only done one 24 hour rogaine before - it was back in the 90s and I remember almost nothing else except a long, painful & unpleasant run to the finish to make it in time - I was very keen to avoid that nightmare this time around so being able to stroll in to the finish was great! Clare's team came in a just few minutes behind us.
During the presentations we learned that the winning teams had got heaps more points than us (each control is worth between 20 - 100 points) - and as we suspected before we started, if you want to win your class you have to stay out all night. Not something I aspire to that's for sure! Jon and I finished a respectable 28th overall (of 98 teams) - not too far behind All-Night-Paul who had to cope with an injured team-mate for quite a few hours I think. The only exception to that was Zali and Jett, who won their class due to being the only competitors this year. Still I think they deserved it - they were out for 13 hours straight and covered a solid 25k or so including a lot of hours in the dark - well done them!
As we examined their perpetual trophy later we noticed that their eldest cousin Liam had won it back in 2004 in SA! That's cool!
So all in all we had a really big weekend! It was a pretty tough adventure but we had lots of fun and made lots of memories! We worked out that we covered around 62k - 50ks on the first stretch, then 12 the next morning.
That's further than I've ever walked in one day before (and more than the length of the 3 Capes walk!). In fact it's not much shorter than the Overland Track (not counting the final 20ks around the lake), which has given me an idea..
Friday, 1 November 2019
Both based on a photo of Pinto. Neither of them resembling her..
Wednesday, 30 October 2019
This is Clare's arm at watercolour course on Monday - I'm sitting to the right. There is always a lot of stuff spread about and the high risk that we're going to accidentally dip our brushes into Clare's cup of tea. On Monday we did realistic birds (above), and cute birds (below).