Wednesday, 16 October 2019
The other day I collected up all the beanies that Zali had made recently so I could count the ones that needed pom-poms. I arranged them all on our bed then went off to do something else.
When I came back Pinto had arrived.
She was clearly sending us a message. It could be have been that she simply wanted to play a game of 'one of these things is not like the other ones', but we knew that wasn't the really it.
She was telling us that she wanted a beanie of her own. Of course.
Not wanting to deny her, Zali whipped up a beanie that afternoon. As you can see Pinto loves it.
With a little bit of time on my hands (ok lots), I made a wedding cake for Clare's mum and dad's 50th wedding anniversary. They were married in the 1969, so the theme of the celelebration was of course the 60s. It was good fun.
For my costume I borrowed Denny's boots, and adjusted a hitherto unworn dress I owned - including adding a fabric flower with the offcuts. I had Zali do my hair in 60s puffy style..
I was happy with the end result..
The evening was really nice. There was lots of 60s style finger food on offer which reminded me of the only cookbook I remember from my youth - a big old volume with strangely tinted colour photographs and pages like this..(that's a meat loaf igloo btw)
I'm not sure if they were truly a 60s innovation but a few people brought along curried egg sandwiches which were delicous. I stuck to them and stayed away from the squid tentacles on toothpicks and pigs in blankets. Ugg.
Feeling slightly halloweenish, Zali made this creepy cake this week.
It was gross, but not so gross that we didn't eat it.
Monday, 7 October 2019
The final day of our 'holiday' featured the Oceania Middle Distance championships. With no more events left this was definitely my best chance to finally get a win and I was really keen to do so! My plan was to use the fail-proof 3 step strategy. Step 1. Start as fast as possible, Step 2. accellerate through the middle part of the race, Step 3. Sprint to the finish. And all without making any mistakes of course. With tired legs and a sleepless night due to drunken wedding guests keeping everyone in my section of the hotel awake until 5am, what could go wrong??
As it turns out I did manage to start well - the splits tell me I was fastest to the first control and I was ahead of Clare by a whopping 4 seconds at the 5th control. For the next 7 controls I was just slightly behind as the lead changed hands between Clare and our other major competitor - Martina (who won the Oceania sprint championships this year and pipped me for first by a few seconds in two races the easter carnival in WA).
Clare's route is in red, mine is in blue.
At the 12th control I regained the lead again - this time I was ahead of Clare by 36 seconds (due to a 1 minute mistake of hers), and just ahead of Martina by 7 seconds. Unfortunately that turned out to be the last time, as I lost 30 seconds at the very next control by misreading (ok, failing to read) the control descriptions. Despite finishing as strongly as I could (including being fastest in the finish chute by 5 seconds), I ended up 3rd - 11 seconds behind Clare who was just too good all carnival and who won despite her one minute mistake, and 3 seconds behind Martina. On the one hand it was heartbreaking, but on the other it's actually really really fun to have such great competition! By Australian standards we had a large field in our age group at this carnival - over 20 runners in our class - over half of them from NZ, and it turned out that with the exception of the Sprint there was at least 2 of the three of us on the podium in each race - proving that even though we are normally a small field when the NZers aren't here, we are a very strong one.
This is Clare on the podium with her parole officer:
(actually part of the land we ran on was owned by the Correctional Department - so the presenter was the boss).
Both Jett and Jon had good races today as well - Jett nabbed third place in a big field so it was great to see him up on the podium, and Jon was 2nd despite his injury from yesterday. Zali's run was ok but not one of her best.
Our Australian team beat the NZ team overall in the ANZ Challenge which was nice (and made wearing our dorky yellow tops worthwhile) . Most of the team members were on their way home by the time we took this photo but it's nice to have a record of our efforts!
After the event we made our way to the airport, where I was finally reunited with Jon, Zali and Jett, and we had an uneventful flight home. Overall the carnival was really good fun. I had a lovely time staying with Clare and her parents, and it was great to catch up with friends from everywhere, including some new ones we made overseas this year.
Saturday, 5 October 2019
Today's long distance championships was exactly that - LONG! It didn't help that I made a 6 minute mistake at the 2nd control but it did mean I had a chance to slowly improve my placing over the rest of the race which featured two very long & hillly legs. In the end Clare was once again too good for everyone and I was very happy just to get onto the podium in third place.
The kids also had good runs - for a long time it looked like Zali had sewn up 3rd place, but she was bumped to 4th at the last minute - still a very good run from her, and a top 10 run from Jett who has been very consistent this carnival.
Unfortunately Jon rolled his angle in the rocky terrain reasonably early on and had to pull out. Funnily enough it was at this event exactly a year ago that he tore his calf muscle. A week of looking after 20 or so kids will put you off your game I reckon!
After our races Clare and I were asked to do some commentary which turned out to be quite fun. The organisers were specifically trying to have some female voices on the microphone so that was good and we got some nice feedback for our efforts. The event today had a great arena with a big screen tracking the routes of some of the competitors which made for an exciting atmosphere.
Once we returned home (to the asylum) I had a quick rest then went out to play a few holes of frisbee golf with Andy, Lyra and Alexa. The extensive grounds of the asylum make for good golfing!
After another short rest we headed out for a picnic dinner down by the lake with Susannah and her family. It was all very lovely.
Friday, 4 October 2019
Today we said goodbye to our little house in Wagga Wagga and moved ourselves 2 hours down the road to Beechworth.
Along the way we had a nice stop in Yackandandah for some bakery treats and gallery browsing.
We're now staying in various forms of accommodation on the old Beechworth Asylum property. I have a standard hotel room, while Clare and her family are in what looks to be nurses quarters just down the road. Tonight I did the Asylum Ghost Tour with Andy, Alexa and Lyra. It was pretty creepy, but we didn't see any ghosts (phew).
The Schools teams have all moved to Beechworth as well. Zali tells me she is now staying in a room with 38 other people - good grief!!
Tomorrow is the 2nd last event of the trip - the Oceania Long Distance Championships, on what will be a tricky and steep area. I'm looking forward to it.
Today was forecast to be well into the 30s so I decided to get up early and go for a nice easy jog in Livingstone National Park, which was about a 25 minute drive south from Wagga.
It was really enjoyable just being able to follow the trail without thinking too much! I ran around the relatively new 'shared use' trail - which generally means it's designed primarily for mountain biking and wound its way around the hills which was very pleasant.
Afterwards I still had a bit of time before the schools relay started so I had a quick walk around the Marrambidya Wetlands which was quite nice. There were lots of birds enjoying the converted water treatment ponds and plenty of information signs (which I didn't really have time to read). It was close to the Murrumbidgee so there were some nice views of the river as well.
Then I drove the 10 minutes to the orienteering event. The relay is always the most fun day of the Schools Championships as all the teams decorate themselves in state colours and despite the race results being very serious there's always a bit of a festive spirit in the air.
Despite the crazy colours, Zali's hair always looks the neatest of the entire year, as she rarely ties it back in regular life! Jett looked very cute with his ribbons and hair spray.
Unfortunately Zali's team had a mispunch, but they were a fair way off the pace anyway. Jett's team had a great result and were third after 3 consistent runs. This is super nice for Jett as he was just a reserve on the team last year - so he has improved a lot in the last 12 months to be a solid member of the junior boys team.
With the schools relays run and won, the public races opened and I had a nice run in the forest - it was a lot easier and flatter than the day before. Unfortunately Clare rolled her ankle so she pulled out half way. With our mispunches on the first day we both only managed to complete 1 of the 3 days of racing!
We had lunch at home then went and hung out for a while at Wagga Beach which was really lovely and there were a few other orienteers to chat to as we sat on the grass by the river. It was much cooler there than everywhere else.
On our way home we stopped at the Riverina Producers Market. It was very low key but we did get some honey and some really yummy flatbread.
As it was Clare's birthday we treated ourselves to dinner at the pub which is just 2 doors away from our house. All in all a pretty nice day.
Thursday, 3 October 2019
Today was the Schools Long Distance Championships and the 2nd day of the 3 day fun event for everyone else.
Zali and Jett both had really good runs on the rugged and technical terrain. Zali came in 4th with almost no mistakes and Jett was about 15th - both really good results.
Jett and his relay team for tomorrow
Jon doing his coaching duties
Zali and Jett looking hot after their runs.
As for me, I started a 5 k course at about 1pm when it was pretty hot. I made a few small mistakes early so Clare caught me up. Then we ran some legs together before I made a bigger mistake and lost a fair bit of time and all my mojo. After that I decided I was too hot and hopeless to continue - so I cut the rest short and headed to the finish - as it happened so did a LOT of other people today as it was so hot by the time we were able to start. Tomorrow will be the same.
Tuesday, 1 October 2019
Today was the schools sprint race in Wagga and both Zali and Jett did well on the complex college campus, and although neither were particularly close to a placing they both did better than Clare and I who ran a similar course in the afternoon and we both mispunched by missing a control! Doh ! It was great fun though - I really enjoy these complex little sprint races!
Clare and I actually managed to miss the same control (although we both ran right past it) and we had finish times just seconds apart.
After returning home for lunch we drove out to The Rock nature reserve. It's a big rocky outcrop about half an hour away from Wagga.
The combined Hawthorne & Simpson -Troedson extended families plus me then walked up to the top (most of us anyway). It was about 3 k and took us 50 minutes - it was pretty sweaty work but the views were really lovely. We met quite a few orienteers there who had the same idea.
We made it back to the car dirty and dusty in about 3 hours and headed home for delicious risotto cooked by Clare.
We haven't managed to get through many more items in the Wagga top 10 lately, but we'll try to do some more tomorrow.
Monday, 30 September 2019
Today's Oceania Relays were held on the same big granite hill we ran at yesterday. Given my previous incompetence I was very nervous about making a big mistake and letting the team down! My Australian team of me, Clare and Wendy were up against another strong Australian team and two NZ teams, as well as quite a few state teams. Clare was out first in the mass start with the other 200 or so teams. We watched on as they all slogged up the hill to their respective first controls.
Unsurprisingly Clare continued her good form to come back in about a minute ahead of everyone else on our course. Here she is changing with Wendy who was heading out 2nd.
Once Wendy started I had about 40 minutes to alternately pace about nervously, queue for the toilet, and think about all the things that could go wrong. Thankfully we were still in 1st place when she came in which left me with everything to lose (but that's better than knowing I had to try to chase someone down!). Luckily as soon as I grabbed my map and started heading up the steep hill into the rocks I felt a lot better and just went about my course trying to a) navigate safely and b) not look over my shoulder every two minutes. I was so relieved each time I found a control and very very happy when I got to the last control with no sign of the other teams. Phew!
Zali was also running on an Australian team, and she was running the same course that we were, so I was delighted to see her come in from the first leg just 5 minutes slower than Clare. She did really well and I think she brought them in 2nd in the W16 class, just a few seconds behind the NZ team. Unfortunately her team couldn't hold on, so they eventually finished 4th, but Zali certainly did her job on the first leg. Jett also had a good run in the M16 class. He actually had the fastest leg on his state team which finished 3rd just behind the AUS and NZ teams. Jon's team was third.
After all that excitement we headed to Cootamundra to have well deserved ice-cream and visit the Captains Walk - a display of the busts of all the Austalian Cricket team captains. Needless to say this was all the men's captains but it was a nice park, and the icecreams were delicious!
We were home in time to relax before heading out to the RSL club to eat with Alexa, Andy and their extended family and other house-mates. We had a great & cheap dinner with great company.
Tomorrow the Schools Champs start for the kids while some much more casual races are held for the oldies.
Sunday, 29 September 2019
On our way to the supermarket tonight we checked out attraction number 5 - Wagga Beach. It is a sandy part of the Murrumbidge river right in town where the council have put a nice grassy picnic area which would be really nice on a hot day. Very pleasant.
BTW Clare is not dead. Just resting.
Orienteering takes you to strange places. I mean, Wagga is nice, but you wouldn't put it on your must-do list when thinking about a holiday to NSW. But since we are here and we have a little time on our hands each day I am setting our household (me, Clare, Clare's parents Greg and Mary) the challenge of visiting the full list of the Top 10 Wagga tourist attractions as determined by Trip Advisor. Jett and I did a similar challenge in Bathurst a few years ago and it was pretty fun and took us to some places we certainly wouldn't have chosen ourselves (hello National Motor Racing Museum).
So we started yesterday morning with a quick visit to the number 1 pick, the Wagga Wagga Botanic Gardens. It was very nice, and happened to be hosting a Spring Jam festival so it was busier than we expected.
We strolled around for a while then headed to the orienteering. Actually as it was so busy we had originally decided to bail out and go to attraction number 8 instead, The Museum of the Riverina. Fortunately this was a) closed for renovations and b) adjacent to the park, so we could go with our original plan anyway. Yay - two things crossed off!
Today we headed further afield to an area just outside of Cootamundra that we last orienteered on a zillion years ago. I didn't have a great run amongst the huge granite rocks, but Clare had a pretty good run with just a few mistakes and had a very convincing victory in our class! Zali and Jett did pretty well. Unfortunately Jon mispunched. The drive from Wagga to Cootamundra was really pretty through the green pastures and canola fields.
This is Zali's course:
Saturday, 28 September 2019
We're away again - this time for the Australian and Oceania Orienteering Championships, in and around WaggaWagga for the first week, then down to Beechworth for the final weekend.
Today was the first race - a sprint. Zali and I are both representing Australia in the Aus VS NZ competition so we both got to wear official Australian tops. It's Zali's first time wearing one, and I reckon I haven't worn once since the 90s!
As it happened we were also running the same course (but not against each other of course). I had an ok run for most of it, and just made a 30 second mistake which cost me a podium spot. Zali ran well too but was a little bit further down in her class with a lot of strong New Zealanders ahead of her. Jett and Jon both had good runs.
Tomorrow we head out into the forest around Cootamundra.
Tuesday, 17 September 2019
Today was sunny and beautiful so I took myself for a walk on the mountain.
I wasn't expecting there to be much snow as I was sticking to the slopes rather than heading to the top of the mountain, but it turned out there was heaps. Some of it was probably from last night as I was making the first footsteps through it. In some places the snow laden branches looked like spring cherry blossoms, the weight of the snow forcing them to bend over, making an arch I had to duck under.
In other parts, the banksias had snow hats...
I loved the shadows of the ferns on the rocks
It was all very delightful.