Friday, 31 October 2008

Swagging at Bimberi

Having conquered Mt Ainslie, the international expedition moved on to Mt Bimberi - an altogether sterner test. It entailed a 15 mile walk-in over Cotter Gap, before some bush-bashing from Murray's Gap. The reward was 360 degree views from ACT's highest peak.

Peter decreed that the expedition had to "swag" as in "Once a jolly swag-man etc". For those not in the know, swagging is camping without a tent. There is just one tiny flaw in the plan: sometimes it rains even in ACT. Sure enough, rainfall on the first night led to an emergency bivvy in the toilet-block (classy). Then a thunder-storm on the second night meant that YIC's emergency one-man tent became a two-man tent (cosy).

The wildlife en-route was very impressive. On the top of Mt Bimberi (1909 metres), lots of ravens were mobbing a "wedgie" = wedge-tailed eagle similar to a golden eagle. And the kookaburras were in full cry, laughing at the campsites. There was also mystery horse-dung on top of Mt Bimberi. Peter thinks this was deposited by the ACT Brumbies: not the rugby team, but the wild horses after which the team is named.

YIC on top of Mt Bimberi

Peter near Bimberi summit

Peter preparing to swag

Caption Competition

"The world's strongest man puts his skills to the test."

Any others?

From Timothy Duff - "I could do this one-handed if I had a pint of Deuchars in the other."

Halloween Joke

What does an Australian witch ride on?

A broomerang.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Walking with the Feet of God

YIC attended St Margaret's Uniting Church in Canberra on Sunday. The church is shared with the local Anglican parish Holy Cross. They were very welcoming, and the Scottish Presbyterian influence is still very strong: Angus Lochiel Cameron was assigned to look after YIC. The service closed with a wonderful blessing song. YIC has the words and music: so stand by Holy Saviours' music group. The song words were:

May the feet of God walk with you, and his hand hold you tight.
May the eye of God rest on you, and his ear hear your cry.
May the smile of God be for you, and his breath give you life.
May the Child of God grow in you, and his love bring you home.

YIC returned to the church the following Wednesday for the 10 am communion service at Holy Cross. The priest Erica preached a brief sermon (which is always a good start) about striving to enter through the narrow gate. The Greek word for strive is "agonizomia" from which we get the word "agony". The word was also used for athletes striving to reach their goal - so YIC felt a certain affinity with his fellrunning. Here's a photo of the church. It's a modern building and reminded YIC of St Hilda's on the Marden Estate (where YIC was baptised).

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Majura and some pumpkin soup

YIC started the day off early with a 7 30 am run up nearby Mount Majura with Alison and the Hackett running girls - Nikki and Jan. This turned out to be a very pleasant climb to the top through bush forest, before a traverse through the forest and climb up Mount Hackett. Afterwards, YIC was sentenced to 2 hours hard labour: clearing shrubs from the boys' school in preparation for some indigenous plants.

In the evening, Peter made some excellent pumpkin and lentil soup, and YIC was reaquainted with the joys of playing Uno. Some practice is required, as YIC most definitely did not win [he lost]. Here's a photo of Peter, Patrick, Tristan, Natalie, and Alison.

International Expedition to Mount Ainslie

Breaking News - the joint British Canadian expedition has successfully scaled Mount Ainslie. Previously climbed by thousands of tourists, this hill can only be attained by the most lazy of visitors who step out of their coaches on to the summit. YIC and Peter climbed the hill "the hard way" - walking through the bush from the Miller residence in Canberra. Here's proof.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Queen's English hits Canberra

YIC has arrived in Canberra to stay with his cousin Peter & Alison Miller and their family. Over breakfast this morning, he talked to their children Patrick, Tristan, and Natalie. They were having "yo!-gurt" (Aussie phonetic spelling) for breakfast. Readers will be relieved to hear that the Queen's English lives on, and YIC reassured them that it was pronounced "yog-ut". This caused much hilarity, and the children went on their way to school rejoicing at the joyous news.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Camping on Rottnest Island

YIC spent 3 days camping on Rottnest Island which is off the coast of Western Australia near Perth. Cars are not allowed on the island, it is bicycles only. YIC had a great time cyling round the island, enjoying the beautiful coastline and spotting the occasional osprey. The resident marsupials on Rottnest are Quokkas. They are billed as "friendly". In fact, they are overfriendly. YIC woke up on the first time to find a quokka inside the flysheet of his tent sniffing about at his cooker. "Get oot" was the cry!

A friendly Quokka

stunning coastline at the West Point of Rottnest

An osprey on its nest (click on photo for view of osprey)

Monday, 20 October 2008

churches in Fremantle

YIC has obtained his church fix: Morning Worship with plenty of belting hymns at The Uniting Church (Methodist etc); then evensong at St John's Anglican Church.  The latter was a modern version of Book of Common Prayer evensong - easy to follow except for the Magnificat which was in modern form (pah!).  Off to Rottnest Island now for a few days camping.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Fremantle Fashion Fiasco

YIC went out for a drink with a room-mate Tom from Sweden. It was Friday night, so the lads and lasses of Fremantle were attired in their glad rags. YIC was also nattily dressed (as usual): Montane walking trousers, Tour of Pendle T-shirt, and sandals. They visited Little Creatures for some Bright Ale, The Sail & Anchor for a glass of Beez Neez, then walked by The Newport Hotel. Here they had a conversation with the bouncer as follows:
Bouncer - sorry sir, no entry if you aren't wearing covered shoes.
YIC - but my feet are covered, I'm wearing socks with my sandals.
Bouncer - unlucky dude, no entry.

YIC shook the dust off his sandals and walked on. It was their loss: he had been about to regale the bar with The Lambton Worm.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Cape to Cape Track

YIC has just completed the Cape to Cape Track, a 130k walk that follows the Western Australian coast from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin. It took him 6 days and he carried all his gear - backpacking in "wild" campsites en-route. The sites were wild in the sense of there being little there, rather than rave parties every night. Indeed on a couple of nights, YIC was the only person at the sites. The sites were available at a very reasonable price - ie free, always a bonus.

While walking, YIC saw lots of lizards, a kangaroo, and whales at North Point, Gracetown. The whales were the most memorable part of the walk: tail-fin slapping and jumping out of the water.

YIC was fuelled by pasta, cup a soup, and chocolate. Indeed for the whole week, he drank only redbush tea and water clear from the babbling brook. However he is now back in Fremantle, where stronger sustance is available to quench the mundane but necessary task of slaking the raging bushwalker's thirst.
Cape Leeuwin lighthouse - the end of the walk
waves breaking over whale rock

Congratulations to

Chris & Jane Atwell - on the birth of Rory Arthur Duff Atwell who was born weighing 10 lb 9 oz (crumbs) with blue eyes, lots of black hair, and built like a prop forward.

Euan Duff - who ran the Great North Run in 2 hrs 12 mins. Euan reports that he was happy with his run, given age, decrepitude, and starting almost at the back of the field. Michael & Elaine also finished the run. Euan has raised over 2,000 GBP for Christian Aid - a stout effort.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

whale watching

YIC was whale watching off Freemantle today. Humpback whales were on view breaking the surface, blowing, then tail-flipping and diving. YIC was waiting for some-one to cry "see-ho!" but most of the (American) tourists settled for "awesome" in their best Officer Dibble accents. It was interesting, but slightly tame. YIC confesses to getting more excited when he sees a hare close up in Northumberland.

Monster Joke

Which day do monsters eat people? Chewsday!

This joke was brought to you by Walter Cox.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

In Slammer

YIC is in Fremantle, Australia. He has visited the former gaol.
There he learned that "in the slammer" comes from the doors slamming
behind inmates in prsion. There is also the phrase "don't let the cat
out of the bag" - this comes from the cat o'nine tails being taken out
of a cloth bag for a flogging.

Happily, YIC is not in the slammer. However he has been to the Sail &
Anchor pub. It is good, he likes it, and intends to visit again.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

escalators and a hawker dinner

YIC met Richard Cox and his children Charlotte and Walter for dinner. This was a fine hawker style meal at a local French restaurant (rather bizarrely situated in Little India). After dinner, there was a trip on the MRT, a race against Walter and Charlotte up and down the escalators (YIC lost and has made a note to practice his descending technique), and then a walk through Chinatown for a convivial beer. All in all, a very pleasant evening.

Here we are at the hawker restaurant.

Friday, 3 October 2008

YIC in Singapore

Your International Correspondent has started the first leg of his world tour with a weekend in Singapore. YIC flew with Qantas (no "U" he now realises) which was unwittingly entertaining. YIC chortled away at the 2 overenthusiastic Aussies on the flight safety briefing: fortunately their names weren't Bruce [Monty Python reference]. After doing some culture at the National Museum, YIC did some beer on Boat Quay - not cheap at $9 for a half. He is staying in a hostel in Little India run by a cheerful chap called Nava, so some good curries should be on the menu.

Friday night - Maruthappa Restaurant fitted the bill with a chicken meal on a banana leaf and masala tea [gently spiced] for $6.50. The sauce was v v v hot - but fortunately it was in a bowl, so could be added as required. Nearby beer in the bars was also cheaper at $10 for a pint (though hardly a bargain). The Tynemouth Lodge looks more like a bargain with every passing day.

Saturday - checked out Chinatown and learned from the heritage museum about the vices that the immigrant coolies suffered from: opium, gambling, and drinking. Readers will be relieved to learn that, apart from the odd Tiger beer, YIC is currently standing fast against temptation.

Sunday - attended the local Church of the One True Light. This was an Anglican church which seemed to serve the local Chinese community. The service was loosely based on morning prayer and featured an 8 strong music group - drums, guitars, bass, the lot. Most of the songs were unknown to YIC, apart from "Blessed Assurance" which seemed to be the star turn of the day and was played with a slow rock beat. The church was very welcoming and sent YIC on his way with prayers for his time in Australia.