Category Archives: Trips

We ride

Finally, a blog post. I’m sure there are some who are saying that & it certainly applies to me too. My last post was back in April when there were some frustrations that included the weather & WordPress blogging issues. Winter arrived & it was too easy to avoid riding much but we did do another “Northern migration” for warmer climes in July. In fact, July was to be my last riding until this week; 4 months off the bike! That period was “interesting”, with lawn bowling dominating & my club Pennant side progressing to the state finals. Riding was low priority but also lack-lustre; medically things weren’t right & so lots of discussions & tests were undertaken. Eventually the issues were tracked to a faulty cable in my electrics. Yes, sounds weird I know but long-term blog readers may recall that I have an implanted defibrillator (it’s not just the Bromptons that require diagnostics, servicing & tune-ups?).

So, a short break to the Hawks Nest & Tea Gardens area to the north of Sydney saw the Tardis carrying our Bromptons Peregrine & Clarence.

  
Off we went for a gentle ride (all I could cope with after such a break?), pootling around the ocean & river foreshores. The river front included yachts, launches, houseboats & “office boats” – although the workers seem to have gone fishing when we passed by?

  
Nearly back to the Tardis at our campsite, Clarence had gone well but with a temperature up to 38° it was me that needed the rest stop.

  

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Coastal break

A mid-week stay at MacMasters Beach wasn’t blessed with brilliant weather but still good for getting out & about. Rather too hilly for my riding & so walking to the cafe at the local surf club was popular – & nice for gazing out at big seas?
  
Lovely beach walk towards Copacabana
  
Driving to The Entrance & then riding around the lake front is more suitable for me, although with the King tides some areas of cycle path were a case of “Will I or won’t I?” (I didn’t)
  

Fun times

Wowee!? Mid-March already!? Doesn’t time fly? This year’s “fun & games” have been rather engrossing but finally it’s time to attempt to catch up on blog postings.

First off, Mrs Aussie is recovering well from her broken elbow (very well, according to the Surgeon) although full rotation & extension will take time. My pre-Christmas elbow infection was slow to disappear & took almost all of January before medications & dressings could cease.

Our ailments didn’t deter our Tardis trip to Adelaide in January. We took along Clarence & Peregrine & took 4 days to drive about 1400km (& the same on return). Our Adelaide accommodation was apartment-based & the Tardis became our lounge-base when driving out to spectate at the Tour Down Under cycling stages (but much more on our escapades in a separate blog post – soon? – refer pic).



Local Brompton activity has been rather limited for various reasons. Lawn bowls is my “excuse” (see below) & for Mrs Aussie, she’s now “back to school” in continuing her Graphics Design degree course. I’m sure there’s a blog post coming on our recent rides? Another posting may say more about the recent Australian Brompton distribution changes (I’m sure there must be a story in there somewhere?) but for those unaware, Kobie Cycling is no longer handling Brompton distribution & there is now a separate Brompton Australia team – with their website being “http://www.bromptonaustralia.com.au/” (check out all the lovely bikes & parts).

Immediately on return from Adelaide my lawn bowling activities resumed (even before the lawns were attacked?) & club trials for the NSW Pennant season got underway. After 4 weeks of trial games against other clubs, we’re now 3 weeks into the 10-week season. Along with this, my club Singles championships have commenced; first with the Minor Singles (eligible to those who haven’t won a Minor championship previously) & after Easter with the Major Singles. I seem to have been practicing & playing rather a lot lately & still it continues – because I play in the Minor Singles Final next Sunday! Five fun weeks although with increasingly higher stakes? The physical & mental demands in bowling are quite demanding & can be quite some workout. Along with a Triples team tournament last Friday (for which we took home a few hundred dollars for 3rd place!), my last 3 days have involved almost 120 ends of play (5km of walking?) & delivering over 320 bowls (total weight about 500kgs?). All good BWC training?

Serious considerations here, to visiting the UK this year & including the BWC. Unfortunately/frustratingly the news out of Brompton HQ on this year’s (10th anniversary?) race has been zilch (beyond saying they’ll email when plans are announced?). Intriguingly the news from unofficial sources are hinting at an early August date & at an “iconic location” (in London?). Anyone familiar with London cycling events in early August could be raising their eyebrows & starting to speculate? However, we need to “Stay calm & Brompt On” (as Mrs Aussie would say) & so we await the official word…

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!?
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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?).
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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?
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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?)
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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?!)
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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”?

Juicy outing

We discovered a lovely bit of cycling road recently (well, particularly lovely for me as it seemed to have no major hills?). It covers about 10-12km along a river valley on a non-through road. It is well sealed, narrow, winding & undulating & as a round-trip of about 20km through nice scenery, it would seem to be ideal for my Brompton escapades?

Unfortunately, I have yet to ride along it, for our discovery was while on an outing with the Tardis to give it a Sunday run on a cool day that was expected to wind up becoming very wet. As part of the day out, we were going to attempt to locate an orchard near Wiseman’s Ferry that was offering “pick your own” Mandarins. So we headed out & had a pleasant time relaxing around the Hawkesbury River locality, & after some lunch we turned back to the task of locating the farm & orchard.

Immediately we turned onto the road we started encountering vehicle traffic coming in the opposite direction. There were a number of properties along the road & with the afternoon getting on, we continued along thinking the traffic was purely coincidental? However, the traffic became more of a flood; convoys of cars all heading in our direction? With the narrow & winding road, we were continually moving over or stopping to await a gap in the traffic before we could continue along. At some point along the road we came to the conclusion that the traffic must have been coming from the farm, as there was little else along the dead-end road. Getting toward the property we were seeing “count down” signs to the farm & concluded that we should arrive prior to the closing time, so should keep going & would likely have the place to ourselves?

Eventually we arrived at the farm, to be confronted with fields of cars (hundreds?) parked near acres of citrus trees. Boy, was picking your own fruit popular?! After being directed toward a field to park, we made our way to the sheds on the property & learned the ropes of obtaining our fruit: a deposit paid for some shears, a map display of where the various Mandarin varieties were located, some rules for picking (snip the stems & don’t pull at the mandarins, no throwing of fruit – presumed to be aimed at the kids? – etc, etc), a bucket for the fruit (we couldn’t see ourselves being able to consume multiple bucket-fulls?) & away we went. Out into the orchard, easily filling our bucket from countless trees heavily laden with fruit; all while carefully stepping between discarded peel & damaged fruit. With the plan of paying for weighed buckets of Mandarins, I suppose there was something in the rules about “no eating of fruit” but it hadn’t been heeded, judging by the amount of peel discarded? As for “no throwing of fruit”, kids will be kids?

Our picking went off admirably, with “just a little” tasting (essentially to verify the tree quality?) & then back to the sheds to have our booty accounted for. A trudge back to the Tardis & then wending our way back along a still busy narrow, winding road & then returning along the main road to home; a lovely day out!
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As for the discovery of an ideal cycling outing for me, time will tell. We shall have to carefully investigate the various picking seasons if we hope to get the road to ourselves.

New challenges

A lot has happened in the last few years. Bromptons, retirement, the Tardis & now Lawn Bowling. Lots of other things too but the last year of bowling has been a rather surprising activity.

My only practical experience had been a workplace Christmas function many years ago, when a large group hit the greens for a “barefoot bowls” session. That had been fun but the post-retirement intrigue of seeing bowlers at my local club lead to inquiring about “proper coaching”. Some weeks of coaching & I was joining up as a registered bowler; all very whirlwind I suppose but it’s been an ongoing learning experience.

The early surprise was the workout on leg muscles that I’d forgotten about. Once I started playing social games I realised it wasn’t just a walk in the park: more like a 4 hour walk, with bending & stretching & regular weight-lifting of 1.5kg lawn bowls. This physical involvement has an accompanying mental effort as well, with continuing concentration on the bowling action, the game aspects & changing conditions throughout the time. In addition, I’ve gained an appreciation of the social structures of the game (team selections & socialising, play etiquette & player support) & how the game is an ideal exercise for the “senior body”, as well as participants of all ages (& gender). All very surprising & unexpected?

I suppose I was expecting a challenge when I started, of the game requirement to deliver the bowl along a curving trajectory to a target point on the bowling rink. The challenge is even more immense than I expected, with variability in weather & rink conditions endeavouring to counter any personal effort for consistency? In truth, “it’s bloody hard” – but addictive?!

I’d often seen bowling green maintenance being undertaken but now I’ve got a much better appreciation of what goes on. Here’s our club Greenkeeper/magician, Fred, whizzing about on his mower.
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The last few months has even seen a ramped up involvement, with participation in the Zone Pennants championship play & in various club championship events. Throughout this time I’ve been getting a better feel for how I’ve been delivering the bowl (as compared to the early self-questioning such as “how did it end up there?”) & progressing successfully through various championship rounds. This busy time has seen some periods of 7 days play per week! As you can imagine other activities have suffered & my cycling has often been limited to riding Ralph to the bowling club to practice. Unfortunately our club Pennants side hasn’t won our section so that’s our season over for this year & unfortunately again, my Minor Pairs final was unsuccessful (although my partner & I have been rather pleased to even make the final against some very experienced players) & so now it’s time to escape for a bit in the Tardis?

Actually, this escape trick isn’t quite what it seems, for the Tardis is carrying a spare set of bowls along with Ralph & Peregrine. With almost every town possessing a bowling club then it’s likely there’ll be a little research along the way? Here is a very recent escapade at Lennox Head: note Ralph & Brompton C bag waiting patiently to carry about 7kg of bowling equipment back to the Tardis.
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New England trek

Well, after the delay in posting about Easter at Mudgee I had all good intentions of wrapping up the next post on the continuation of the trip to the New England area! Needless to say, I’m once again apologising for tardiness? I usually try to keep the posts in chronological order & so I was trapped: not wanting to post about later Sydney events but unable to find the time to sort out old material for the blog! Now what has happened is that we’re away again, heading for the far north coast of NSW & here I am sitting in the Tardis trying to remember what happened around Anzac weekend?! (Be warned! Frequent blog posts are going to be needed, in order to get up to date & hopefully blog about this trip while it’s still in progress!)

Having given all the above excuses, I’ve decided this post is coming together via my journal & associated pics. Sorry for any brevity of comment.

Departed Mudgee on Easter Monday & headed for Murrurundi. Lunch stop in Merriwa & liked this country scene (oxen with wool bales on wagon, sheep & dogs, galahs, etc) done in corrugated iron & assorted scrap metal.
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Couple of days based at Murrurundi CP for some local genealogy research & then heading further north with visit to Rail Journeys Museum at Werris Creek station. Lots of good info about early rail life (& death) & the efforts in building the early railways.
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Overnight stop at Tamworth & then driving on to Manila. Visited Manila Heritage Museum for genealogy research & then continuing to Bingara for 2 days stay at caravan park. Noticed these couple of classics in the park.
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Entertaining & eventful time in Bingara. Watched the Anzac Day March while out on a ride, punctured rear tyre on Ralph (forgot to take pics during country roadside repair – after surviving the Mudgee Cathead thorns, seemed to have a big thorn in the tyre but the tube hole was somewhere else?), lots of rides & walks around town on really, really wide roads!?, good historic collections of early settler artifacts & some “new history” at the Greek Theatre Museum (info on how Greek migrants settled & developed businesses in country towns).

Our rides around town included this riverfront track & coffee under the verandah of an old pub.
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Leaving Bingara, we followed the Gwydir River for some time & were surprised at the numbers of caravans & motorhomes free-camping along the riverfront. Such traffic that there were appropriate road warning signs?
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Later the road passed through Keera Station (a cattle country look-in for more genealogy research?) & it was a relief to see this sign (for the uninitiated, a B-double is a double- length semi-trailer)
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Eventually this back-road meander saw us at Inverell & we continued on to Glen Innes for the night. Travelled on the next day (& escaped some rain that seemed to hover over only Glen Innes?) to Armidale, which like Inverell had seemed uninspiring over a long weekend (too much traffic & too few places open?). Our lunch stop at Uralla was such a contrast: much smaller town but so lively & lots of choice? Our next overnight stop on this straight(ish) journey back to Sydney was Walcha. Here we encountered a really nicely setup & maintained caravan park. For example, the camp kitchen was spotless & so well-equipped that we almost felt guilty in using it?
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So much of the site showed evidence of an accomplished handyman/owner. Such as this ingenious dump point (for that “black waste” that we don’t have facilities to accumulate in the Tardis)
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Not only the caravan park but the whole town showed some remarkable efforts in landscaping & sculptures (& only one pic doesn’t do it justice). A lot of walking was needed to take it all in – but the Walcha Royal provided suitable refreshments within its almost museum-like motorcycle-themed rooms?
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Last leg of the trip was driving on to Gloucester, our final ride around the quiet country roads, overnight stay at the caravan park & then back into Sydney. Almost 2 weeks away & a whole host of places & sights – with lovely cuppa stops such as this along the way!
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