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No Fins for Burblechaz
Surfing in No Surf
A New Board
Photography is Easy...
Boogie Board
Superboat Grand Prix
A Guest For Lunch
Sat Mar 29 20:04:30 2008

No Fins for Burblechaz

But success for others

To Manly once again. The surf report was right. Millpond. You'd expect quantum fluctuations in the air temperature to cause more surf than this. No problem - we'd sensibly left the boards at home today.

Since surfing was out, we had a gentle stroll along to Shelley Beach. People were snorkelling. Aha, we thought. Is there a dive shop in Manly? A moment's googlage, and our destination was in the GPS. Off we toddled, barely delayed by the navigation technology at all.

Helped by a friendly, expert advisor at the excellent dive shop, we were soon equipped for snorkelling. New toys displayed here. Regrettably, they didn't have any fins in my size. Rather than wedge my delicate little tootsies into inappropriate gear, I will be sticking with the bodyboarding fins for the moment. This will give Other People a performance advantage. Ha. We'll see.

And now, the gratuitous cumulonimbus you've all been waiting for:

Storm cloud over sydney harbour Bridge On the down side, we're going to get wet on the way to the pub.
Fri Mar 28 19:47:35 2008

Surfing in No Surf

2ft and choppy

Up betimes and off to Manly, board in hand. We grabbed a spot in the upper deck cabin today. It was rather civilised, and a lot less windy than the main deck. On arrival at Manly, the surf was as predicted - non-existent. We strolled down to the south end where there was absolutely nothing. The other end looked more promising, so we hiked up to North Steyne. Between the flags there it was about 2ft, with a confused cross-set. Rubbish, really. Hey, ho, off with the dry togs, on with fins and into the water. Sensible People stayed on the beach, waving. The water was warmer than the air, which is about the only positive note. The break was full of long, frondular seaweed. I caught a few decent rides before the fins had removed all the skin on my ankles.

After less than an hour, we pottered back via a place of refreshment. Halfway across the harbour a JetCat powered past.

Sydney Jetcat We prefer a more refined pace.
Thu Mar 27 21:26:39 2008


Not scared of spiders. Not scared at all

Did I mention my new mobile? No, I didn't. Painful memory of theft and all. Anyway. Got a new one. Nokia N95. It's a GPS. It downloads maps on demand from the network. It's a web browser that speaks wifi, HSDPA, WCDMA and GSM. It's a music player. It's a 5 megapixel camera, with video capability. It has VOIP. I've heard rumours it can even be used to 'speak' to 'people' as well. No idea why that feature's included, but it comes for free. The feature, not the phone, which is most assuredly not free. $18 a month, more like. Bargain.

This is a picture I took on it on my walk down the hill this evening. The poor, pretty beetle is about an inch across. The spider is bigger than my hand.

Spider eating beetle Happy nightmares!
Wed Mar 26 22:18:11 2008


The long-awaited sea freight delivery.

So what, dear reader, have I been doing for the last two months? (Apart, obviously, from surfing, getting a job and suffering serious larceny on the strands of Sydney). I'll tell you what I've been doing. Sleeping on the sodding floor is what. Pumping up air mattresses and dodging the nocturnal bedroom wanderings of the local wildlife. Freezing when it's cold, and having nowhere cool to relax when it's hot. May I remind you that the local floor-trotting, house-invading beasts here include the most venomous arthoropod in the world?

"But camping out is fun!", "It's character building". Both true quotes from my dearly-loved friends and family. Yes, camping is fun, for about two days. And my character must be so well-built by now that it needs planning permission.

"Whither the burble, then?" my dear readers ask. Here is where: One room, three hours.

Empty room We've lived like this for eight months.Bracing!
Removal boxes in room Won't need the gym today.
Furnished room Stuff!

And tonight, we will sleep in our bed, on our mattress, under our duvet. That makes us very, very happy.

Tue Mar 25 21:06:32 2008


The Surfing Geek Gets a Job

After more applications, interviews, offers, negotiations and counter-offers than you could shake a platypus at, I have a job. Specifically, I have an absolute dream job. The sort of job most people never get offered.

It's like offering a seagull a job as a chip-taster, or asking a wombat to do quality control in a mattress factory. The only downside is that the beach will have to wait for weekends. No worries - it's autumn anyway.

Twelve weeks after rocking up here, homeless and jobless, we have a flat in the most desirable suburb in Sydney, and I have a fantastic job with an office in walking distance. The icing on the cake, the parmesan on the pasta, the garlic on the prawns, is that the (long delayed) sea freight should be delivered tomorrow.

Sometimes, it all comes together at once.

Sun Mar 16 22:53:07 2008

A New Board

Before the old one was properly broken

We've been meaning to do the coast walk from Manly towards Middle Harbour for some time. My body has been demanding (and deserves) a day off with pay (or, at least, protein). The surf report made references to millponds and mirrors. The sky was overcast. A perfect opportunity for a gentle stroll, then.

After a breakfast rather longer on cholesterol than carbohydrates, we pottered down to the ferry wharf. Carrying swimming togs was an oversight. They were probably already in the bag. Towel? It keeps the water bottle cool. No surfing planned. The ferry trip from Circular Quay to Manly is just the right length to grab a coffee, watch a bit of harbour activity and gently slip in to beach mode. Well, that's my excuse. Since we were going for a walk, and not, for instance, surfing. No board, see? I might have mentioned that I would be interested in scoping out some fins, if the opportunuty presented. No more than a casual aside.

Somehow, our feet carried us into a surf shop. Then another one. Upstairs, no less. No idea how. A deal was offered. I HAD NOT PLANNED THIS. At all. So, polite withdrawal, and a hike.

Along the beach, over Shelley Beach (awesome snorkelling opportunities. Hmm.), and up a path towards North Head. You can see the plan unravelling here. Middle Harbour is the other direction, you see. We didn't see any lizards. Not surprised. The spiders have probably eaten them. As we stroll, The Persuasive One was guiding my thought processes. It wasn't my fault. Honest. And it was a huge discount. Fantastic board. Fins thrown in. And a bag and leash, too. What's a chap to do? This, apparently:

Bodyboard, fins, happy There is no lack of surf, only a lack of commitment

Also, two videos. I'm the dude in the middle, look for a red board and a sunburned bald spot:

Tomorrow, there will be No Surfing. A quorum of my major muscle groups have made this clear.

Wed Mar 12 20:56:58 2008


No Pain, No Brain. Or something

Another beautiful day, so by ferry to Manly again. The normal thousand-passenger ferry service had been replaced with two 250-seat JetCats. Normally, these command a premium over the regular surface, owing to the fact that it gets you there in half the time, and also has a certain zoominess lacking in the normal 1100-ton ferries. Our feelings were not the unalloyed joy one would expect, owing to the lack of a cafe aboard the JetCat. The morning coffee was, accordingly, delayed until arrival, and the time saved by the whole 'zoom' thing was absorbed by the postponed caffeination. No matter. To the beach, and aquisition of equal parts of sunburn and board rash. Sensible people had a couple of goes on the board, decided that, although diverting, the experience was not without minor discomfort. I, delighted by sole use of the equipment, stayed out for almost two hours.

Burblechaz on Bodyboard Hurtling shorewards
Burblechaz on Bodyboard Splosh.

Those amongst you who know anything about this sport will, of course, have spotted that I'm doing it wrong. Thank you. I know.

Wed Mar 12 00:44:11 2008

Photography is Easy...

...if you live in Sydney

Pottering back from the beach the other day, I took this shot on my mobile phone's camera. 1 megapixel. 1mm aperture. Fox Talbot had better kit. This just goes to show that it's better to be lucky than smart.

ALT TEXT Bridge. Opera House. Thermonuclear Reactor. Shiny!
Tue Mar 11 22:00:40 2008

Boogie Board

A new form of pain. I mean fun.

To live in Sydney without surfing would be like living in Paris without eating out. You'd avoid a lot of expense, pain, and embarrassment. No. Sorry. I mean, it would be a tragic waste of a world-class opportunity.

So, to Ocean Surf Beach at Manly (again), and the hiring of a boogie board. Ten bucks an hour. Fun was had. Forty minutes was quite enough. Off to buy such a toy for ourselves. Unfortunately, as related here, polystyrene costs about $1000 a kilo here. So, off to the mighty Gumtree. A slightly-used board was going for $20. In Manly. Where the beach is. Where we were going. About now. So, off we went, mobiles in hand, deals being struck. The seller was waiting for us on the wharf. Apparently, she had bought it in Hawaii, expecting to use it when the wind was light, and she couldn't go kitesurfing. Since no wind==no surf, the board was not serving its purpose for her. Lucky us.

So, to the beach, where we learned some important things. At high water, the beach is steep. The surf sneaks up as oily rollers, occasionally creaming a little, and then dumps megawatts in the last 20 metres. Ideal for bodyboarding :-) In 40 minutes, I got sunburn on my back, boardrash on my belly and a huge grin.

Boogieboard indoors If I wait long enough, the surf will come...

We're going back tomorrow.

Mon Mar 10 07:29:32 2008

Superboat Grand Prix

An inconvenient lack of ferries

Yes, I know, insufficient bloggage, lazy, lack of care for loyal reader, apologies etc. Anyway. On to today's activities, just to give you a flavour of Life Downundah.

The day plan was simple: Surf, Superboats, Sauvignon Blanc. Executive one-phrase overview: Total Success! Read on for detailed report.

So, after an early start, we wasted no time in dashing down to catch the 1200 ferry to Circular Quay. The day showed all the promise of a long, hot, sunny afternoon, and we had no intention of wasting one moment. Into the queue for the Manly ferry. There is a display above the gates showing how many spaces are left aboard. When we turned up, there were less than 400 out of 1000, and several hundred were milling around ourside the gates. Neither surprised nor dismayed, we applied our elbows to the problem. Several little old ladies, cute toddlers and disabled war veterans trampled to the floor, and a place on the ferry was ours. No seat, obviously. A little-known feature of the Manly ferry is the cafe. A passable cup of coffee is available for a reasonable fee, and there are few early-morning (well, noonish) pleasures above leaning on the rail, supping a spot of caffeine as the harbour slips by.

Knowing that the ferries were to be disrupted by the afternoon's entertainments, we checked the notices on arrival. Stress ensued. We had little over 90 minutes before the service was suspended for the rest of the afternoon. We dashed along the Corso, handed over a fiver to the nice chap with the secure lockers, and headed into the surf. Except there wasn't any. Flat as a very flat thing indeed. "Joy", said the sensible person. Bugger, said I. On the plus side, we had a very pleasant swim. The biggest wave we saw was less than half a metre. Let's hope for some Autumn storms.

Back to the ferry wharf, and we managed to grab a place aboard the last ferry. More caffeinated beverages, owing to the lack of licensed facilities aboard. The harbour was full of boats waiting to watch the racing. Our ferry had to wait ten minutes while the racing boats powered past the Opera House on their way to the start. I would post pictures, but we had no camera, owing to the swimming thing. And I can't post the rubbish ones from my mobile, owing to their general rubbishness. See what I mean?

Fuzzy picture of racing powerboat Zoom, goes the blurry object. Roar goes its noisemaking apparatus.

The course was around 8 miles long. The fast boats were doing it in five minutes. Yes, that is close to 100kts. Average. The noise was amazing - deep-throated roaring from multiple huge petrol engines. The control systems driving the power into the water must be an astonishing piece of engineering. Regrettably, it doen't always work. Yesterday, one of the boats crashed in practice, killing the driver and seriously injuring the co-driver. Story here. Very sad. The qualifying yesterday was cancelled out of respect.

So, we watched these astonishing machines hurtling around the harbour for a while, until the lure of the next event dragged us southwards to Hyde Park. A wine festival, no less. Many suppliers were showcasing their products. Shiny, we said, Until we realised the catch. They were charging full commercial rates, plus you had to fork over $5.00 for a plastic glass. Bugger that, we said. Homewards, via a more reasonably priced facility.

Food: Roast Chicken. Wine: Verdelho. Well, it's a bit like a Sauvignon Blanc. So, plan executed!

Sat Mar 01 23:30:54 2008

A Guest For Lunch

And some notes on the weather

The Australian climate was not the sole reason for our migration from Northern Europe, but it was certainly a positive consideration. We were looking forward to long, warm days with balmy evenings, followed by a gentle, pleasant Autumn. So, it must be said, were the locals. Since we arrived, Sydney has had the coldest, wettest summer in decades. We have had howling gales, torrential rain and thunderstorms measured in days. This sort of thing is always happening to us. Last year, in Victoria, our arrival was greeted with a dry gale that drove the largest bushfires in a century. I'm sure we could make a fortune out of this. Just think how much people would pay us not to visit.

The major difference in the weather between Sydney and Bristol is not so much one of meteorology, as one of timing. In the UK, five days of pleasant sunshine during the week will precede an Atlantic gale with record rainfall over a bank holiday. Every bank holiday, in fact. Here, it's the other way round. The weather is vile, unpredictable and miserable until a major public occasion. Then, the clouds part and the rain stops for long enough to toast the exposed population with ionizing ultraviolet. This pattern, which we first observed on Australia Day, repeated today for the Mardi Gras (yes, yes, we know) celebrations. You have to admire a climate that has a sense of humour. Hypothermia, drowning and malignant melanoma are just three of the ways it can kill you, all on the same afternoon.

The following photograph is entirely unrelated. We were having a quiet beer, (exposed to ionizing radiation, but not actively hypothermic) when some fellow drinkers abandoned their chips to this chap:

Seagull landing on table Do you mind if I join you?

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Last modified: Thu Aug 31 22:46:12 AUSEST 2006