Archives for the month of: November, 2014

This is a guest post from my young niece JY! She is the eldest among the kids (though she is a young lady now), and finds it hilarious what comes out of my son’s, AKA “The Pok”, mouth.

During one of my many Skype conversations with my little cousin “The Pok”, we engaged in our usual conversation. As usual, we began by asking each other what he had eaten for breakfast. He racked his brain for all he had eaten throughout the day and delighted in the culinary exchange.

Once our “food conversation” was over, The Pok suddenly grew very excited to demonstrate what he had recently learnt – how to count!

First, he started to count my fingers as I held them up in front of the webcam. Each time, he would not get the amount of fingers correct. Curious, I asked him how many fingers he had.

Cousin of the Pok: “[Pok], how many fingers do you have?”

Pok: “I have all of them!”

With that we all laughed hysterically, including “The Pok”, though I knew that he didn’t understand that what he said was funny.

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The weather in Sydney is starting to scorch already. The end of Spring this year is a hot one, and I get the feeling that Summer is going to be very hot. So I decided to take the my trusty little Canon Powershot G15 on a mini-excursion in the yard and garden at my parent’s house. There were little gems of flora and colour everywhere.

This little wasp had no interest in me, he was drunk on nectar.

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Some of the flowers are quite hardy and resilient to the scorching Australian sun.

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Years of pruning this palm tree has left a trunk of incredible texture.

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At the end of Spring, the Summer flowers are getting ready to bloom.

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That didn’t stop others from shining fully in their efforts to attract pollinators.

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The only snake in this garden was coiled up in snooze mode.

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The other palm in the garden had a fully loaded bomb bay. These little seeds are coming down in a couple of weeks before they decide to drop of their own accord.

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This plant’s mottled leaves were strange, and bare of any flowers.

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I did not realise that this plant held it’s pollen under it’s leaf and not at the end of a flower stalk. The leaf is displaying the charred effect of long exposure to the sun.

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And the front garden is covered in hydrangeas. For as long as I can remember they have been at the front of the house.

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Spring in full bloom is coming to an end, hello Summer!

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Our boy, AKA ‘The Pok’, has started to say some really funny things with the reasoning of a 4-year-old behind his musings. Some of it is hilarious, or just bizarre.

I am far from being a saint when I am driving and reacting to the idiotic misaligned actions of my fellow drivers. To be honest, my language when cussing other drivers can be pretty bad. That has all changed significantly (my wife might begs to differ) since becoming a dad. I am always conscious of the fact that I have a little word repeater in the back seat.

But I couldn’t contain myself on the way back from a “boys only” trip, with the Pok, to Ikea. [side note: this would appear to be our second favourite destination for “boys only” trips, the first being Bunnings Warehouse Hardware Store – end side note].

Travelling in the car at 60 kph, I had to slam on the brakes to let in a young driver who was too impatient to wait for the acres of space available behind my car.

I let rip within the noise cocoon of my own vehicle, “You stupid Muppet!” Satisfied with myself at the verbally issued tirade.

Within a second “The Pok” gave his version of cussing to the driver, “You silly Prawn Head!”

I double taked, as this was the first time I had heard him have a crack while driving.

“[Pok], what did you say?”

He responded just as eagerly, “I called her a silly Prawn Head, because they are just silly.”

I burst out laughing at what he thought was a demeaning turn of words, which bemused him as to why I turned from road rage to laughter at his outburst.

Some day, when he is much older, I will teach him insults that are not comedic.

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I have been long overdue for a blood donation at the Australian Red Cross Blood Service. I was booked in for a donation this morning for a blood plasma, when I was asked if I could donate platelets instead. Apparently I have a high platelet count (for no other reason than I have), and some poor soul does not. He or She is in desperate need on a daily basis of platelet transfusions until they can find a suitable bone marrow donor – not an easy job. So my Friday Fone Foto is a simple one, a new blood sucking machine that I have become acquainted with. 🙂

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I don’t like pushing my causes on others, but if you can donate then why not? The needle only tickles, the staff are always awesome, and plus they give you a free milkshake after your donation!

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We were fortunate to have spent the weekend just past up in the New South Wales Hunter Valley – wine country! Of course with a drive of just over two hours it provided me the opportunity to pack my road bike steed on the roof and plan for a ride. I had never ridden up in the wine country before, but have driven through the valley on many occasions. What I recall is the poor quality of the roads up there in certain sections, and many of the smaller vineyards being access via unsealed roads. So to be honest, I was a bit nervous riding up there – particularly with the speed differential between me as a cyclist and the cars travelling at 80kph (50mph). And being wine country, I had noticed that many car drivers are a bit tipsy wobbly behind the wheel. I planned two morning rides on the Saturday and the Sunday, but this trip is the only one where I prioritise the vine before the bike and I only managed to squeeze in a Saturday morning ride (I know that this breaks Rule #11 – I will pay penance at Velofix later this week).

I set off at 6:30 on Saturday morning, and what a glorious start to the day it was. The sun rising over the hills gradually illuminating the vineyards from long shadows. The air was fresh, wine country is farming country. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza, which provided me good access to high quality tarmac to roll on from the get go. The first part of my ride was up North through Lovedale.

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The vineyards on some of the properties are quite close to the roads, and you get a real sense of what you are riding through. It kind of makes you thirsty…

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The other non-wine farms are just as picturesque. This view of the rising sun through the eucalyptus trees created stunning shadows for many metres along the northern stretch of my route.

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I was disappointed that there were no grapes on the vines, but it was the wrong time of the harvest season. Still, the weather has been pretty good, the vines looked healthy, so hopefully it will be a bumper year.

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It was not flat on this ride, and as soon as you get off the main roads it becomes quite bumpy and gravelly. There was also a fair amount of roadwork going on that is not due to be completed until next year some time. For the stretches that were complete, the road was smooth as glass – the sort of road that cyclists dream about on a perfect ride. But it was far too bumpy for my liking through Pokolbin on 23mm tyres. It was so bumpy that as I headed back through the Eastern section of Pokolbin, the rattling shook my light completely out of its socket at 45kph. I had to slam on the brakes and backtrack to see if I could find where it had bounced off to. Fortunately it was still working and easily found, albeit with a few battle scars inflicted by some harsh gravel. While there I decided to ride up to Hope Estate winery, where I got married. It was surreal being in the saddle riding up the long driveway, knowing that my wife and two children were sleeping back at the hotel. Since we were married back in 2008 the property has changed significantly, not to mention the paving of the driveway.

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As I was heading back, the wind was beginning to pick up quite strongly. Later that afternoon as we were driving from cellar door to door I noticed the wind was properly buffeting everything. By the time I headed back the morning had well and truly arrived, with the South Eastern part of the valley in full morning glow. Quite a sight.

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I will definitely ride up here again, but now better prepared. Here are my tips for riding up in the Hunter Valley:

  1. Recon your route in the car properly (via a few cellar door tastings if you can). The conditions of many stretches of road were not what I remembered them to be. And for whatever reason, many of the roads are not very well maintained.
  2. Go early – the valley is practically asleep before 8am and the roads are only being traveled by sober drivers who are trying to go about their business. For this ride I only passed one other cyclists and perhaps was passed by 30 cars in total.
  3. Swap out your rubber to some wider and harder wearing tyres (28mm if you can). It was like riding pave or cyclocross in some sections. Which leads me to my next point…
  4. Consider riding a cyclocross or flat bar hybrid / mountain bike. While the road bike was good for riding on the good roads, there are many unsealed roads that are more akin to riding the Strade Bianche.
  5. If drinking copious amounts of wine the day/night before then hydrate up. I was parched before I had even started riding.
  6. Be prepared for the elements. It is windy and exposed through the valley, and the sun is quite strong.
  7. Enjoy the view! There is no point racing through this area, it is picturesque and beautiful. I made sure to take it in while in the saddle and I definitely noticed many different things riding than I have ever done behind the wheel of a car.
  8. Be self sufficient for the ride, nothing is open in the early morning. It would appear that the valley does not kick in until 10am, so sourcing any refills would have been a no go.
  9. Watch the speed difference between you and the cars. While most of the roads I rode on were marked at 80kph, I would not have been surprised many were travelling faster.
  10. Make sure you ride up there! I was contemplating leaving the bike behind, but it was a beautiful ride up there in the wine country.

 

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