Category Archives: Misc

Recoveries

Our recoveries seem to be progressing well? In light of so many kind queries on Mrs Aussie’s status I feel an update is called for… (as well as many thanks)

The broken left arm & sore right hip that has been with Mrs Aussie since our BAC escapade in late October have progressed to the points that Mrs Aussie is back driving our manual change car (although not the Tardis, with its manual shift & long stretch to the handbrake) & I’m once again left in her wake while out walking? The surgeon has been happy with his bone-pinning handiwork (& impressed with Mrs Aussie’s job at damage?). Regular self-administered physio will be required for some time yet & I expect that an attempt to ride Peregrine again may happen early in January? (refer pic of Peregrine sporting a new set of Ergon Biocork GP1 grips – & a set of mudguards)
IMG_0629.JPG

Another recovery seemingly going fine, is for me – after undergoing Cataract surgery! (wonderful to have Mrs Aussie back driving & able to chauffeur me for a change?) A recent annual opthalmological test had highlighted the rapid development of a Cataract. I was rather surprised at the examination but progressive deterioration can be hard to pick. Certainly understandable with my unusual issue of short sight in one eye & long sight in the other. With spectacles to adjust my vision & my short sighted eye being dominant, the Cataract in my long-sighted eye wasn’t noticeable for me (until being made aware of it),

The surgical process was quite fascinating (as explained with computer visualisation beforehand): a teeny cut in the Cornea, ultrasound to pulverize the Cataract & then the pieces sucked out, before an implant is inserted. The cut is far smaller than the implant, as the implant expands upon insertion. Anaesthetic to have me awake but unaware of the activity & then a patch over the eye until the next day. Eye drops for some weeks but vision already fine – & I’m advised it will improve as the eye heals! Because I’ve had the short/long sight my whole life & can see well without spectacles, the specialist suggested a new lens to return vision to what it was before. When viewing things, I automatically use whichever eye is needed & the brain then processes the image. My use of spectacles was really forced on me by the eye testing requirements for 50+ years of driving licenses, but now the specialist has surprised me by recommending that I go without spectacles for most things!? – & he’s to supply me with a letter to the licensing people for an exemption!

Some downsides from the recovery guidelines are that I “do not play golf, bowls or tennis for a week” (bother! but no mention of not riding my bike? – probably related to the usual audience for the instructions?). Also that I don’t lift heavy objects for a week (is a Brompton heavy?) Oh well, time for some coffee walks & blogging…

100 up

Two years ago I had the thought that I needed somewhere to store the info & pics that I was accumulating during life with my Bromptons, Robinson & Ralph. An all-encompassing online system that would cater for a variety of media & be readily accessible by me? A blog system seemed to fit the bill – & maybe it would assist others too?

Accordingly, my blog named AussieOnABrompton.com was born & as of today, this posting is my 100th entry! It’s been a surprisingly pleasurable challenge, to gather material, decide what to do with it or what to say, & then concoct the blog posts. Of course, some posting ideas are difficult to convey but more often than not, it’s a challenge of what to leave out when trying to keep the blog “clean & simple” & not over-burdened with text or images?

I often wonder whether the blog is an effective storage/resource tool but every time I consider changes, I seem to impinge on my “clean & simple” preference – & I’m reminded of the backlog! That’s enough of this milestone malarkey; I’ve got a blog to run!

Folding tricks

Brompton Folding Competition

Another of the fun events of the Brompton Australian Championships is the Folding Competition, held after the BAC race. The challenge is to be the fastest to complete the fold of a Brompton; in our case a white demo M3L. Some hot times amongst the initial competitors & seeing the standard folding pedal to be part of the fold (something I’ve always fumbled in my limited exposures – all my bikes use MKS removable pedals) had me heading back to chatting with BAC attendants. Later, I mistakenly strolled too close to the competition area & Adam from Cheeky Transport suggested I should participate. My excuse about the pedal was to no avail & Adam gave me a quick tutorial.
IMG_0559.JPG

So, there I was: beside the unfolded bike & with the count-down starting. “How hard can it be?” came to mind (again) & I was off… Funny how a Brompton other than your own can feel “different”? With the M handlebar positioning feeling strange, in parking the bike I neeaarrly jammed the front mudguard between the wheels! Next I lifted the stem slightly & started undoing the mainframe hinge clamp. Wow, I forgot how my long-term use of Brompfication hinge clamps & springs eased the process. Here, I was noticing the extra turns of the hinge clamp bolts & the lack of spring pressure helping to open the hinge. A bit clumsy but I had the front wheel folded & mentally preparing for my next phase: flipping the stem/handlebar down while dropping the seat! Easy-peasy?
IMG_0558.JPG

Whoa! Disaster! I couldn’t undo the hinge clamp! Dunno if it was sabotage but with the previous competitor unfolding the bike after their folding attempt, they’d done up the clamp “very firmly”! Precious seconds ticking away & I persisted; finally getting it undone once realising I needed to use far more effort. Another clumsy undoing of the clamp bolt & the seat down I was ready to face my nemesis: the pedal fold! Ooh, quite good really, I was surprised!

The clock was stopped & there was the evidence: 20 seconds?! Not too good but some satisfaction/relief that the effort was over! Next time…

Thanks to Adam for the excellent tuition & providing the video on my phone. A even bigger thanks to Adam, Donald & others for running the whole competition & getting over half the BAC participants to challenge/embarrass themselves? Oh, & congrats to the winner of the final, held as part of the BAC presentations (sorry, can’t recall who won: too busy laughing?)

Finally, a YouTube link to the video of – My attempt

Fun & value weekend

WordCamp Sydney 2014

My attendance over the weekend at WordCamp Sydney 2014 was definitely interesting, fun & exceptional value. The organisers did a wonderful job & claimed an event cost of over $30K?! For this WordPress & many sponsors gave us great value, with a minimal charge & lots of goodies, food, drink & entertainment. Nearly forgot; WiFi throughout was great (my 3G provider lost the lecture room battle).
IMG_0530.JPG

With my WordPress interest centering mainly on my WordPress-hosted blog, I sensibly avoided the “Tech Track” portion of the 2 streams & concentrated on the “User Track” events. After all, PHP programming & Plugin expertise don’t really cut-it for me, when WordPress do all my heavy work & I just pump in tales such as this? Some of the User Track talks were still out of my range but who knows? A user-hosted WordPress site sounds very appealing & straight-forward if I were gravitate beyond my free (& mildly customisable) setup?

Overall, the user talks gave lots of food for thought (eg perils of PDFs, passions of WordPress support, pushing your Profile, etc) & also provided plenty of confirmation of my own operations – maybe “Keeping it clean & simple via iPad/iPhone updates” could be my talk next time?

Did I mention the food? Snacks every break & lunches provided
IMG_0528.JPG

My passion for coffee was satisfied by a WordCamp-funded coffee cart at the door. Indoors, “the Bearded Roaster” put on quite a show of how to do it right (with his own beans)
IMG_0529.JPG

Walking in to WordCamp on Sunday was accompanied by many extremely well-dressed motor bike riders. Their toots & waves were appreciated but probably aimed at this couple helping to guide them through the city?
IMG_0527.JPG

Many thanks to WordPress & all the organisers. See you at the monthly WordPress Meetups? (3 locations around Sydney)

WordCamp

This weekend will be a sort of “back to school” for me, as I’m heading for the Sydney WordCamp event –

WordCamp Sydney September 27-28, 2014

Taking some words from the Xen.Com.Au website, WordPress can be explained as “…a very popular CMS (Content Management System) which powers hundreds of thousands of websites around the world. As well as the free version, which allows you to start blogging quickly and easily without any experience, there’s an ‘installed’ version which is hosted on a server of your choosing.”

So, with my interest in blogging I decided to attend WordCamp 2014 to see what the “User Track” portion of the schedule had to offer (while leaving the “Tech Track” for the serious/professional/techie” types?) –
http://2014.sydney.wordcamp.org/schedule/

My WordPress blog has been an interesting “occupation” for me & I’m not expecting WordCamp to inspire any layout re-designs (although, who knows?). My blog update processing aims are to “keep it simple” & WordCamp could be an interesting time?

Fotoz birthday

Doing something special for your 50th birthday seems a good idea (can’t immediately recall what I may have done; too long ago?) & sometimes people go to a lot of trouble!

“Mr Fotoz” is a family member, pro photographer, video producer & seemingly a “life-long train nutter”? An invitation for the family to join him on a steam train trip to the Blue Mountains, near Sydney, wasn’t entirely a surprise & was sure to be memorable. What was unexpected however, was that it turned out to be “his train” & he was arranging the lot! ie booking the engine, heritage carriages, crew, approvals to run the steam train on the main lines, planning & marketing the event & selling tickets to fill the train! (apologies to any mates or enthusiasts if that’s over-simplified things but every time I hear or think any more about it, my head hurts)

So, early one recent Saturday morning we set out for Westmead station, one of the intermediate stops along the route from Picton to Lithgow. There we waited with our picnic baskets, wine, cameras, etc & “almost on time” the Fotoz Flyer came steaming into the station – with Mr Fotoz in the driver’s seat!?
IMG_0430.JPG
IMG_0434.JPG

Settling back for our adventure, along with 100+ enthusiastic passengers, the 5917 engine hauled us up into the mountains putting on a sight & sound display that was amazing to experience. All along the way spectators were out beside the route or even following in cars. Inside the train we wined & dined on our goodies & plenty of supplied nibblies. The experienced hands donned safety goggles for observing our journey via the open windows (the amount of coal grit on the tables was enough to dissuade me from sticking my head outside) & we all marveled at the sounds of a steam train working very hard (both up the hills & on the flat).

Steam being steam, our trip had a number of stops while the water was replenished (& for once the crowds around the action were parted by a decent shower of rain?).
IMG_0435.JPG

The whole experience was a step back in time – such as these “mod cons” in our first-class compartment & some of the travellers in period costume?
IMG_0433.JPG
IMG_0431.JPG

There was an extra section of the journey after Lithgow, off the main line, when we travelled on to Wallerawang so that the engine could be turned around for our journey home (where we sat & waited in our carriages while the engine chuffed off & later appeared via a cunning “triangular loop”, ready to take its place at the other end of the train – such are the difficulties of arranging steam travel on modernised infrastructure?)
IMG_0432.JPG

Our journey back to Westmead to depart the train was pretty well on time, perhaps with not quite the same excitement as when traveling up into the mountains? Overall, we had about 12 hours of fun – & really appreciate the efforts of the organisers who would have spent 15+ hours for Saturday, as well as the involvement of getting the train to the Thirlmere start point on Friday, as well as returning to Eveleigh on Sunday (& everything it took to even get the approvals?!)
IMG_0428.PNG
IMG_0429.PNG

Finally, the downside of the adventure for the participants was the inability to get the full spectator experience. We’ll have to be content with the excellent video work from Bevan Wall on YouTube –

BTW, regular viewers may be detecting the likelihood of a backlog of posts? I now admit defeat to the notion of keeping my blog posts in chronological order (hey, a new interpretation for doing things “sooner than later”?

100 days to go

The “tbc” Brompton Australian Championship now has a date! More info to follow, they say but from today we’ve only got 100 days to go before the very first BAC…
20140711-102656-37616980.jpg

Cafe creations

New cafés are always interesting to check out offerings & my recent visit to LidnJar at Rhodes was no different – but in fact with differences? Quirky furniture is nothing new as an attraction (or challenge) but the new cafe took it to a new level by including the whole fitout. Some pics follow & I’ll leave it to you to like/dislike their decor. As for the food & coffee, I was very happy with what I had & no doubt will return soon. (Actually my return will also allow me to check out whether their decor attempt was in fact intended, or maybe the fitout was temporary to suit the opening?)

20140709-232052-84052396.jpg

20140709-232053-84053114.jpg

20140709-232053-84053819.jpg

20140709-232051-84051647.jpg

20140709-232050-84050825.jpg

Vintage workhorses

My previous blog post mentioned a detour to Dungog on our return from the North Coast break. We’d heard about a National Rally for vintage tractors being held over the weekend & so we headed for the Showgrounds. Lots of trucks, trailers & caravans but a bit light on for tractors? Yes, a few machines around but it seemed the action hadn’t got started? Oh well, back into town for our lunch stop.

While parking in the main street we heard the sound of a steam whistle & there, chugging up the road was a traction engine! Shortly after we saw another – but decided that lunch came first! Afterwards, the cafe staff mentioned that lots of tractors had actually headed out earlier on a run into the countryside (now that would have been “interesting” to be stuck behind?) but were due back soon. No sooner had we got back to the Tardis, we started to see tractors coming back into town. Out with the iPhone for some video perhaps? Maybe 20 minutes later I was able to put the camera away, after more than 50 tractors had chugged their way back to the Showgrounds. Unfortunately there was no time for us to make a return visit (for sure the Showgrounds was now going to be buzzing!) & we resumed the trip back home.

A YouTube link to my hasty, handheld, hamfisted video awaits – Dungog Vintage Tractors 2014

Stupid Turkeys

Until recently, we’d imagined that our Brush Turkey saga was at an end. However, now we’re not so sure…

A few of my blog posts have mentioned our unwelcome visitor who snuck in while we were away in the UK (see Back to the nest, Nest status & Chicks away) & proceeded to devastate the garden & create a huge nest mound. Once the chicks departed & mound activity ceased, we figured that it was time to start reclaiming our compost heap & all the extra material Mr Brush Turkey had gathered. Over time the earth is being separated from the rocks & the tangle of twigs & branches that had been scraped from all corners of the garden (& some of the neighbours?). Not that it’s all done but work continues & evidence of the mound is diminishing.

During another session by Mrs Aussie to break down more of the Turkey’s mound created within the original compost heap, a most alarming situation was encountered. Seeing an unusual rounded object within the material, she attempted to uncover it fully. I’m informed that upon the slightest touch, the item exploded! It was indeed, an unhatched Brush Turkey egg & the rotten contents were sprayed out – & accompanied with a vile, nauseous stinking smell. Ears ringing & retreating rapidly to the house, all further work was abandoned for the day!

I was to hear this amusing tale when I returned home later (no guesses for who thought it to be the most amusing?). Some Internet research had disclosed that the phenomena was not unknown. It seems that the explosion is likened to the sound of a rifle shot & the overpowering smell is “unforgettable”! While I managed to miss all the fun, I did remember to take these pics of the remodeled compost area & the offending egg remnants.

20140316-101011.jpg

20140316-101037.jpg

So, is our Brush Turkey saga at an end? How many time bombs or booby traps still lay in wait for us? Stupid Turkeys…