Travel: Winter Road Trips - Ep1

I love going for drives around our region during winter, it is the best time of year to see the region after the winter rains. Starting early we headed off from Canberra to Batemans Bay via Bungendore, Braidwood. The sun was bright over the green dewy fields of Bungendore followed up by a stop off at the Lolly Shop in Braidwood.

 

 

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Lunch was on the waterfront with fish and chips in Batemans Bay followed by wandering around the marina looking at boats and slips for #ProjectSailBoat, just information gathering.

 

Heading back south heading through Narooma down to check out our favourite camping site at Mystery Bay, then south to Bega and up to the mountains through Bemboka (remember to stop off for a pie at the famous bakery) then up further into Cooma.

 

Just before dark we managed to make it back to Canberra having missed most of the first snow of the year but we did catch the trail end of the storm.

Were is your favourite road trip to?

 

 

 

Life : house is progressing nicely - June 2014

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With only a few months to go, you can really see it coming along. If you look back at the previous pictures from January when it was just a concrete slab, to April when it was just a soulless box. Now it is really taking shape. In the pictures our town house is the one on the left of the two mirror imagined homes.

While the right hand side has more sun, I am happy because the other two that were available are all extreme south facing with almost zero direct sunlight. 20140621-184912-67752175.jpg

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A massive 6 months!

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Starting around Sept 2013 I finished a 6 month rotation to Darwin, where I found a new found love of jogging and exercise.  I was lucky enough to meet great friends and go  to places I never would have the option of going to if it was not for work .

 

Read more about my time in Darwin here

Almost as soon as I arrived back in Canberra we were off again. Thanks to my  amazing partner lead me on a tour of his incredible country – Myanmar. We spent an unforgettable 3 weeks traveling the lengths and breadth of this nation. Even after all the sights and experiences his FAMILY was the true highlight for me. His mother’s warmth and care, his father’s intelligence and willingness to share and ask questions about my life too. 

A more in-depth write up of our time in Myanmar is here
 
Then the “ experience “ of meeting my parents in Kuala Lumpur and catching up with my good friend Ron who then joined the four of us traveling to Redang Island (Palau Redang) off the north east coast of Malaysia. It was the second time Frankie and I had been to the Lagoon Redang resort. After the ferry ride from Kuala Terraganu on the mainland over to the resort (where my father’s sea sickness came to a head) and check in, the island is really just a water sports playground. 
All expenses paid apart from alcohol and diving services. After snorkelling every day and also trying SCUBA I was HOOKED. The resort is a PADI accredited resort which means they have instructors and Dive Masters who can facilitate everything from the minimal training ‘Discover SCUBA’ right through to your ‘Dive Master’ qualification. Frankie, Ron and I decided finally we would try the ‘Discover SCUBA’ – which is essentially being kitted up and thrust under water. 
 
Frankie and Ron could not get get more than 10cm under the surface before pulling the pin. I managed to get all the way through the experience – roughly 15mins getting to a depth of 5.5m. I was so excited to be doing it I forgot to actually take my GoPro3 from the dive bag on the beach before getting in the water. 
 
Back in KL the ‘experience’ of travelling with my parents again reached crescendo with the all important family yelling match in an international airport. Don’t be shocked. Its rather common for my family. We get over it faster than our words echoing around departures. 
 
  
 
A more in-depth write up of our time in Malaysia is here
On return back to Canberra I started in a new role with a new team in the a new office. 
 
 Not long after our return from our big overseas adventure we decided to start thinking about buying a house. When I say thinking, we looked at one and brought it. A 2br, split level east facing townhouse. Requiring 5% down in Nov 13, and the rest in around Nov 2014. Perfectly suited for what we needed. Also keeps my NBN dry. 
 
 
 So because I am swimming in cash *COUGH COUGH* I then booked my PADI Open Water Dive Course. 
 
 I nearly didn’t get to do the course! 
 
The doctor was worried my lungs were almost not up to the minimum capacity. But don’t worry, I managed to get over the line. 
 
 The first weekend was half theory and half practising in the pool! I don’t know about you but I am never lucky when it comes to being partnered up in anything sporty, usually picked last. Well there was this one mega cutie on our group – and for once guess who I was partnered with!! JACKPOT! He was a great guy, sweet and innocent of the ways of the world. It wasn’t until the pool technique practising that my inner filter turned off. I couldn’t stop giggling when our instructor was inadvertently saying things with MASSIVE innuendo such as “ right team lets get under water, get on our knees and have some fun’ I looked at our assistant instructor with my ‘trying not to laugh’ face – which is hard in full mask and regulator in your mouth’ Sadly his mouth was level with the water and it caused him to inhale and cough with the biggest smile. The laughs only continued.. 
For those that are not divers, there is a requirement to learn how to tow your buddy should they become fatigued or injured, this cryptically is called the ’Tired Diver Tow’ which involves you laying on your back and your buddy laying between your legs face up, you hold their tank and kick – pushing you both forward. I simply said ‘ I don’t open my legs for every one this easy, buy a boy a drink first sailor’ He too could not control his giggles The second weekend was the in water component, unlike the current Australian government immigration policy, as it was under water rather than on water I can talk about it. The first day was 3 dives at 6m practicing skills we learnt in the pool. The second day was at a site called Toll Gates – read about that bit here
 
 
 

All was going well, a little too well.

 

I was getting ready to finally sell my maxi road scooter – 500cc – on consignment with a local dealer.
 
 
 
 
The fates intervened again. I was crossing an intersection with a green light, I stopped as a cyclist crossed my path and was collected right in-between my passenger front and rear doors. Causing $6000 worth of damage. I am insured however the insurance company is still ‘determining fault’ hmmmm. 
 
 
To top of a roller coaster of emotions. I was voted by an overwhelming majority to lead my employers Gay & Lesbian Network. A total of 1/2 of the overall votes came to me. A lot of pressure is now on me – some will say ‘its just a volunteer thing, no extra pay, why bother’ – It is important to make changes, drive the changes. You can’t do that from the outside.

 

If this was the last 6 months, I wonder what the next will bring.

Hopefully you will also see some changes on the site coming soon. I hope you will enjoy.  As always, please like, comment or subscribe.

 
 

Car Accident – Can’t both have green lights!

I knew things were going too well!!! Last Monday night I finally dragged my butt off the couch and decided to head to the gym. Frankie was out at dinner with his friends so I had the whole night to my self.

I ate, got changed and headed off to the gym. I have a membership to one of those chain gyms, one membership multiple locations.

Well I drove to my usual place and could see from outside that it was pretty busy. I didn't want to fighting some ape for equipment so drove off to another one close by.

I was in a turning lane and received the ‘green arrow’ ( the arrow is important, as against the solid green). As I was completing the turn a cyclist overshot the footpath and was about to cross into my path. I easily stopped in time, so did he - we exchanged knowing looks. Just as I was about to start moving off again and completed the turn a driver coming from the other direction ‘T-Boned’ me. Shocked but uninjured I pulled my car off the roadway and proceeded the time honoured tradition of exchanging details, I even managed to get the cyclist details as a witness.

 

What I didn't do was ask on the spot for the driver’s admission of fault - we can't both have received the green light.

Apologies for the out of focus, but photography was not on my mind when I took the picture.

The car has been assessed as requiring $6000 worth of repairs - lucky fully insured. The only sore point is that the other driver is attempting to claim she had a green light thus I was at fault - If this WAS the case I would be $625 out of pocket for my excess charge. I am still fighting with the company at the moment.

I am uninjured but the car will be gone for a month. The only real damage is that this weekend (exxxtrrraaa loonnnngg - take 3 days leave and get 9 off including weekends, ANZAC Day, Easter Long weekend) we were planning to drive and camp along the great ocean road in Victoria.

 

 

PADI Open Water Diver Certification -Learning to dive pt 1

So its started!!  

I have been wanting to learn to dive since the PADI “discover diving” in Redang Island Malaysia. I found my local store here in Canberra offer a 2 weekend package that combines theory, “confined water dive practice” - code for swimming pool, and then finishing with a weekend demonstrating and exploring those skills in the open ocean to give me the base qualification of “PADI Open Water Diver”. For those that done know PADI is the Professional Association Of Divers International. Back in the early days of diving they set the standards and benchmarks for the training of new divers. They currently train 90% if the worlds divers. I have to say I didn't really have any understanding of the technicalities of this when I signed up.  One of the benefits of the standards is that if I ever want to go diving with a buddy ( you should never dive alone) if they have the PADI base qualification, I know they have been trained in the same safety procedures, same checks, same under water hand signals the whole works.

The process starts when you approach your dive centre to learn to dive. Mine is located in Belconnen, Canberra  - some 1 and a half hours from the ocean.  The intro night is where you meet, are talked thought the forthcoming course, measure up for wetsuits and other gear as well as the all important Dive Medical. No use getting down to 18m and realising your lungs are shot.

Starting bright and early the next saturday - the theory starts. Hardly arduous concepts but none the less it must be learnt.

The next day it time to put that knowledge to the test on the pool with all the equipment on. I have to say the most daunting thing isn't removing my respirator underwater effectively leaving me without air for a few seconds.. its the removing my mask completely - knowing to clear it I need to not breath through my nose until I need to breath out to clear the mask - oh sure that sound simple - but my body keeps wanting to breath in throughout my nose.  I managed to demonstrate the required skills to pass that section.

So that leads us to the open ocean. Today is Wednesday,  tomorrow evening I need to swing past the shop and pick up my dive gear as well as my buddy’s as we are driving down to the coast Friday night, to start mega early on Saturday in the real wet stuff!

Until then - keep thinking about me and not breathing through your nose!

 

 

 

Cast off! - Cast comes off following bike crash

Today I went along to the Fracture Review Clinic at The Canberra Hospital (TCH) following my bike crash a few weeks ago . The Orthopaedic Registrar that reviewed my injury and my X-rays. He determined that my cast and sling can now come off!!. I have to admit I have been a little naughty. As my cast was a ‘half cast’ that only covered the top of my wrist and forearm and was then bandaged onto my arm using crape bandage, I have been removing the cast to sleep and shower. As I was in the Mardi Gras Parade on the weekend, I also didn't wear my cast during the parade. The biggest down side has been the muscle atrophy that my right forearm and bicep have suffered. Don't get me wrong, I have never exactly been ‘built’ but there is now a very noticeable difference between right and left biceps.

 

We have walls!!

So after signing the contracts only in November, construction has powered ahead. Last weekend we stopped by the site to see how it is all going. Only a couple of months ago we had grass, then weeks ago a slab, now walls and a glass sliding door!! Another revelation is that our house plan is mirrored from what we were expecting. Frankie said that will 'change' all his decorating plans.. I don't know how since it's just a mirror image of the plan we had already had.

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My Christmas Gift to Me: Kathmandu Lansan Light hiking tent and rediscovering the bush capital #CBR

Since being back from Myanmar and Darwin I have been looking to do more bushwalking and day hikes. I have also discovered the Namadgi National Park. I know it sounds silly to say I have just discovered it after living in the ACT for nearly 10 years, however I am glad I have. Namadgi sits about 40kms to the south of what most people think of as the bottom of Canberra, Tuggernong. Namadgi actually takes up around 46% of the area of the Australian Capital Territory.

A few weekends ago we stopped off at the Namadgi National Park visitors centre and collected maps as well as talked to the staff there as I was looking for a gentle part day walk to get my partner used to carrying a pack. Previously he was not even keen to carry a tiny pack with a water bottle and camera in it. The staff suggested the Yankee Hat walk to the only Aboriginal Rock Art located within the ACT, being only 7kms round trip.

Following on from that trip, I have decided come hell or high water I want to start walking and at least doing overnights, if my partner can not or will not hack it, I will go alone. To this end I started hunting around for a light ( read able to be carried without doing my back) tent. I was bidding on a Hubba Hubba V6 on eBay for ONLY $250 which is hundreds of dollars off, sadly I missed out. Fortunately the even lighter but slightly less versatile Kathmandu Lansan Light  came in at $250 ( down from $699) during the Christmas Sales and weighted in at sub 2kgs.

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I also managed to pick up a Mountain Designs Tasman 40 pack on sale for $65. After packing my new tent, my sleeping bag and my ground pad, there is not much room left for anything else.. I really should have got a 50L if I want to go solo.


UPDATE:

Regarding the Tent: Read here