Sunday, 24 April 2016

Richmond and the Bonnet

Our run of beautiful weather in southern Tasmania continues and, with just over three weeks until we depart for our Grand Adventure we are keen to make the most of these wonderful cycling conditions. Here's the route we took today ...

With her sore hip/lower back continuing to improve, Di thought she might be up for a hundred today but wanted to ride towards Richmond to see how things were going before committing to the longer distance. If things were looking good we would ride through Taroona and on to Bonnet Hill before turning for home.

As usual when we are heading to the eastern shore, we set off north along the bike track. The wind was in our faces for the first 25 kilometres or so, but it wasn't too strong and we were cruising along at a pleasant pace so it didn't bother us much. After another 5 kilometres of side wind we had the breeze pushing us along from Pontville to Richmond via Di's favourite stretch of pavement: Middle Tea Tree Road. A short break at the Richmond Bakery, back on the bikes and on to Grasstree Hill. I got to the top a little bit ahead of Di so headed back down to accompany her the rest of the way. I wondered what my little loop would look like on the map ...

Hmm. As you can see, Garmin isn't 100% accurate in its tracking!

When we were relaxing at Richmond Di had decided that she felt good enough to go on towards Taroona, so we deliberately paced ourselves through the next part of the journey, including crossing the Derwent via the Bowen Bridge. It was easy to cruise along with this lovely view of Mt Wellington in front of us ...

The Bonnet is a really nice little climb, and once up it we turned for home. On the way down I shot a little video to show what the descent is like. Look out for a spot of road kill at 30 seconds, closely followed by the historic Shot Tower. If you're cycling here in Hobart someday and ride down this route you might want to stop at The Picnic Basket, an neat little café at the bottom of the hill. Once a petrol station, it now serves to assuage the appetites of Taroonians and interloping passers-by.

And that's about it for me tonight. Tomorrow promises to be another scintillating day. I need my beauty and brawn sleep if I'm going to do the ride I've got planned, so it's off to bed.

Bonne Nuit!

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Snippets From The News

Love Makes the World Go Around: Simone & Jean-Paul

De Beauvoir and Sartre. Two towers of intellect who were together for 51 years. I'd be happy to take that for my innings. Before you jump on this with the statement that they both played around throughout the time together so their union couldn't have meant much, consider that Beauvoir declared her relationship with Sartre "the one undoubted success in my life". 

Now I'm not queuing up for (or  have the time to think about it!) the amorous explorations of those two but I thought you might be interested in this article on polyamory in the Guardian this morning.

Uluru: to climb or not to climb?

Di took this photo when we hiked around "The Rock" in 2014.  We had been aware before arriving in the Red Centre that the traditional owners of the land on which Uluru stands do not want visitors to climb up this sacred monolith and had been persuaded to respect their wishes. We had a great walk around the rock, and there are plenty of photo opportunities from just near the road in many places during our visit.
Unfortunately it looks like the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory has no respect for the laws and traditions of the Anangu people. Apparently just yesterday he called for them to drop their opposition to people climbing. If you are planning to visit Uluru, perhaps you could read this article from the ABC before going. I think it gives a balanced perspective on different points of view. And this one in the Guardian reveals a number of other points that are worth reflecting upon.

Is America on its way to being great again ...

... and can heroism and hucksterism co-exist on the same political platform? This article from the CBC website suggests that it can. If you can't be bothered exploring that link, an extract from one of Trump's speeches overnight has found its way across cyberspace and onto the screens of billions ...

One pundit has suggested a new logo for the Trump campaign ...

The lead up to the the U.S. presidential race might have become a reality TV show but it has presented lots of people with opportunities to have fun with moving pictures. Here's one I particularly liked ...

If you haven't come across any of the Downfall parodies on YouTube before and need a good laugh from time to time you're bound to find something there that will tickle your fancy. And if you've never seen the movie Downfall, about the last days of Hitler, it is a tour de force. If you don't want to take my word for it read this review. Speaking of German-made war films, one of the most powerful I've ever seen is Das Boot, made in 1981. Here's a trailer ...

There is a new German film showing at our local art house theatre called "Labyrinth of Lies" which, according to the review site Rotten Tomatoes, "artfully blends fact with well-intentioned fiction to offer a thought-provoking look at how the lessons of history can be easily lost or forgotten". I say "new" German film, but it was actually released in 2014 and is only just making its way to us down at the end of the Earth in mid 2016, and not, of course, in mainstream cinemas. It looks terrific and I want to make sure I don't miss it while it's on ...

Sliced Brains? Anyone?

Tasty looking? No, this isn't a shot from an exclusive Tokyo sushi bar. I got it from an article in the Guardian on the apparent reduction of a drop in dementia in the U.K. Now I am not suggesting packing up and moving to Britain to avoid getting Alzheimers or any of the myriad other forms of dementia but the article suggests that dementia can be "prevented". My reading of said article is leads me to think that I'd like to have a shot at some Nerve Growth Factor gene therapy ASAP. Or is it already too late? Or, even if it isn't, will this type of therapy only be available to the super rich?

Scrambled Brains? Anyone?

Scott Morrison: Australian Federal Treasurer
Would you buy a used car from this man? How about a budget, yet to be issued but with promised delivery date a couple months out from a double dissolution election (the first in 40 years)? We already live in a country where 76 big companies reduced their tax bills so they only paid an average of 16 cents in the dollar and dudded the rest of the country out of $5.6 billion in doing so. 

How do they get away with it? Good question. It's been going on for year, and it's not just the Coalition who lets their avarice go unchecked: the Labor Party has been just as dilatory in not doing their duty by the people of Australia in cutting down on major tax avoidance. But at least Labor has called for a Royal Commission into the banking sector in this country, where the big four banks seem to be able to get away with what they please, and our Prime Minister and Treasurer go cap in hand to them to see what sort of investigation would be acceptable.

And now it's time for breakfast. Scrambled eggs perhaps ...

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Prime Ministers and Technology: Canada v Australia

New School v Old School?

Isn't it good when you hear about a senior politician who actually seems to be switched on to technology rather than just pretending to care?

Apparently Justin Trudeau, the young charismatic Canadian Prime Minister is one of those rare beasts ...

By contrast, here in Australia we've got Malcolm Turnbull, who rode a wave of  populism for a brief moment in time by promising to take Australia forward into the new age of technology, to create a new, more receptive government that would lead us forward into the 21st Century.

Of course, before he came to office he was the Coalition's go-to man for technology, but the warning signs were already there when he effectively emasculated the Labor Party's bold new NBN strategy that would have put us in the vanguard of internet communications.

In addition to his tech-savvy answer to that quantum computing question, Trudeau has just announced that the Canadian government will give $50 million spread over 5 years to a theoretical physics research institute.

Two years ago Turnbull dumped on then Prime Minister Abbott's antediluvian attitude towards climate change ....

Now he is presiding over a massive purge of climate research scientists who work at our wonderful CSIRO. this organisation has been serving Australians for a century now, and should be helping us deal with the number one threat to our country, and the planet in general. It's no wonder his popularity has plummeted in the last 6 months or so. He talks the talk when it comes to climate change but doesn't walk the walk.

Bring on the election ...

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Autumn Arrives in the Garden

Now that all our north island visitors have fled homewards across Bass Strait, Di and I have settled back into the quiet life. We've found a bit of time to potter around in the garden again, but with autumn in full swing and winter not far away the garden is winding itself down.

Some produce is still forthcoming, rewarding us for our efforts earlier in the season. Yesterday we picked a couple of aubergines for the moussaka Di was making for dinner, and thought we might as well bring in a couple of red peppers as well ...

I've just been out in the garden doing a little work in support of our two wonderful eggplants. There are at least another nine aubergines to be picked, and flowers that suggest more are on the way. It occurred to me that they might want a bit more water, and I've also done a bit of  trussing to keep them from sagging. Maybe we'll be still picking for some time to come!

This morning we decided that we ought to grab one of our figs off the tree to have with breakfast. It was much larger and more superior to the ones we bought at the shop just yesterday to have for dinner with our friends Alan and Penney. Our fig is the plump, round fellow at the bottom of this photo ...

... and this is what he looks like cut open ...

 Maybe we should have bypassed the shop and just gone out into the back yard! The fig tree is a relatively new addition to our garden, and this is the first year we've been able to harvest any. Sam, our next-door neighbour has set the gold standard for us. His figs are an earlier ripening variety and his tree was loaded a month or two back. They were fantastic and we hope to emulate his efforts over the next few years.

The tomatoes are on their last legs, along with the basil plants we belatedly stuck in between. Now that we know they grow so well together we'll get our basil in a bit earlier next spring.

Our blueberry bushes have turned red and are dropping their leaves; the gooseberry is not far behind.  We've been very encouraged with improved cropping for both and are keen to build on what we learned this year.

We think the strawberries are finished for the season, but then we thought that a month ago and got another late flush of fruit. We will be away when the olives are ready, but the amount of fruit on our young trees is fairly meagre at this stage so we won't be missing out on much there. (They were never planted with harvesting in mind anyway.)

The zucchinis are still going strong, a late crop of cos lettuces will provide the basis for a bunch of Caesar Salads down the track, and our kale and silver beet will of course produce right through the winter. We've got a few small but delicious red cabbages in the garden to eat over the next month or so, and that will about wrap things up for the year.

After giving away veggie gardening when we were still working, we've rediscovered the joys of growing our own produce thanks to having more time to engage with the process. It's sometimes hard to work out what we should plant in our relatively small area, but that's all part of the fun. It will be interesting to see how our new apple trees go next year, when we should get our first fruit. The weeds still get out of hand from time to time, but it's a lot easier to catch up again these days - without feeling overwhelmed by it all.

And now it's time to get ready for the stroll from home over to the State Cinema to watch Sherpa. It looks like a very pleasant way to while away the late afternoon, so off we go. See you later!