Sunday, 21 June 2015

The Sun Returns


This year, June has been a real dog's breakfast as far as weather goes. (Or, maybe after not being around Hobart during June for a few years we've just forgotten what it's like at this time of year.) We're already just about on our monthly average of 44 millimetres (and I mean the median) for rainfall with a third of the month still to go. Most of that has come in three days. There have been a couple of very windy days when the I've been worried about the young olive trees in the backyard, including one day when there were gusts in Hobart up to 106 kilometres per hour.
On the other hand, we've had eleven days with no rainfall recorded and lots of days with very light winds, so overall we've  had great conditions for cycling. The other day when we were easing back into town along the bike track after being out to Richmond, Di suggested I stop and take a photo over the Derwent. I took two in the end: one of her looking out over the river ...

Di eyes the Derwent

... and another of what she was looking at ...

Tugboats in the slipyards

Unfortunately, I've been struggling with a cold for a while now aso decided to take a three day break from the bike during the middle of the past week. It seems to have paid off as I am not sneezing and coughing as much and the mucus has pretty much dried up.

In the Garden

After the advice I received from various folks I decided I would pull out the Tea Tree hedge I'd lovingly nurtured for many years, and espalier some fruit trees in their stead. We've got a wonderful nursery down the Huon Valley called Woodbridge Fruit Trees with a huge range of trees, including many heritage varieties. They ship their trees all over Australia ...

Woodbridge Nursery sends trees from the Huon Valley all over Australia

Woodbridge reckons the best trees for espaliering are dwarf apple trees. We wanted varieties that are early maturing, so I've selected two classic heritage varieties in Beauty of Bath and Cox's Orange Pippin, along with the more recent but very highly regarded Vista Bella.

Of course, before the trees go in I've got to build the framework for the espalier. It took a while to decide exactly how I wanted to put it together but in the end I have just put four posts in the ground and am in the process of connecting them with a simple post and rail structure. Rather than use screws and brackets from the hardware store I thought it might be fun to use old-fashioned carpentry techniques: cut joints, put in a fillet of wood and hold the lot together with dowels. Nothing to rust away and a stronger joint. To hold it together so I could drill the holes and put in the dowels I used the twisted rope method. Here's what I'm talking about ...

A section of my espalier frame

... and a close-up of the dowelling holding it all together ...

Old time building methods

A bit rough and ready but that's all we need. I'll finish putting together the woodwork tomorrow and when the wire and turnbuckles I've ordered arrive it will all be done. Can't wait to plant the trees!

We've also replanted a patch of strawberries, pruned the cherry tree, moved a blueberry bush, dug up the rhubarb and replaced it with what we hope will be a nicer variety, as well as - somewhat belatedly - put in our garlic crop.  It will be great to come back from our big ride across the continent to see all these things flourishing: we hope!

Today's Ride

It was just too good a forecast not to go for a ride today. Di wanted to do something a little longer and we both thought it would be pleasant to go somewhere we hadn't been for a while. We waited until just after 10:00 a.m. before setting off to let the frost disappear. Here's what we ended up doing ...

Sublime cycling terrain in the Hobart area

It was a fantastic day out, quite cool but almost completely still and completely blue skies all day. Of the 105 kilometres or so we cycled, about 85 kilometres were on quiet, undulating rural roads. Highlights include riding through Tea Tree past the ever-increasing vineyards in the Coal River Valley, along the undulating Fingerpost Road, out through Seven Mile Beach between the airport and the sea and on through the Acton Park towards Lauderdale. Beautiful rolling countryside broken up from time to time - but not too often - with flat sections of road. Just brilliant!

A New Helmet

Just over a week ago we were out on a ride and I got it a bit wrong. We were actually just having an easy ride after working a bit harder the day before, and clearly I wasn't paying enough attention following Di just north of Bridgewater. I had allowed my front wheel to slightly overlap her back wheel and when she swerved to avoid a pothole I paid the price. Luckily Di didn't go down but I did a bit of a cartwheel, destroying my helmet in the process (a dent in the top and cracked clean through in two places) and picking up a few bruises and patches of road rash. Thankfully it wasn't any worse than it was, serving as a timely reminder to be alert at all times. It's the first time anything like this has ever happened to me in over half a century of riding a bike, and it could have been a lot worse as we'd just come around a roundabout on the main highway heading north ... 

X marks the spot!
So now I have a brand new helmet - a little lighter than the previous model as I thought that if I had to get a new one I might as well lighten the load a little. (The lighter the helmet the easier it is to hold your head up hour after hour on a bike.) Let's hope I won't need to put this new scone saver to the test for a long time to come ~ if ever!