Saturday, January 29, 2011

My Evil Twin Made Me Do It

My computer and I are no longer on speaking terms. We had 'words' yesterday where I might have called her Stupid for freezing. She didn't take kindly to my harsh comments and let out a loud scream that went on and on and on ... until I couldn't take it any longer. I just had to make the screaming stop! Things have become vague right around here. I think I went into a fugue state. There may have been blood? A gun shot? All I know is that she's no longer alive and kicking and I'll be claiming self-defence ... or insanity.

So with the untimely demise of my computer I am now back to blogging on my phone. (Brings back memories of Tasmania) This means that I can blog from anywhere - even my lovely soft bed in the company of my two faithful hounds.

Nelson, our dalmatian, is getting pretty old. He's 13 in human years which is the equivalent of 91 in dog years. And my 91 year old veteran has made mockery of the phrase - You can't teach an old dog new tricks. Nelson has always been able to jump onto our bed for our weekend afternoon nap - until the last year. A few unfortunate incidents had left him lying sprawled on the floor feeling humiliated. (We've all been there and can empathise) But the lure of the nap has been too great to just give in gracefully to his senior years. He has learnt that if he baulks on the run he must back up into the hallway then run with everything he's got and COMMIT to the jump. It's verging on genius!

His other new trick is to lie with his head facing the foot of the bed. This leaves his pungent poo hole facing my husband's pillow. Poor Nellie has a little wind problem. In fact I think that he's single-handedly made a sizeable hole in the ozone layer. Iven now believes that he has a serious sinus issue or, at best, killer halitosis. I have not set him straight.

Yes, I know. I'm evil!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Australia Day

Yesterday was Australia Day and how do you celebrate Australia Day when you're a runner? You meet up with lots of other runners and RUN.

Coach Chris organised a special run for us yesterday. It DID involve a mountain again (boy am I OVER running uphill) but the benefit at the end was really worth the pain. We finished with a breakfast barbecue. Eggs, bacon, sausages, onions, fruit, baked goodies and juice. Yum!

He had wanted to have a bonding social event early in the year and this was a perfect opportunity. We spent a couple of hours eating and chatting and generally having a lovely time. Then it was home to bake a pavlova for the family's dinner, coffee with my husband and a movie with my sister. (Black Swan this time - good, but disturbing)
And to finish the day I had the best night's sleep that I've had in weeks.

The last couple of days have taken me to a couple of the areas that had been flooded recently and it's been interesting. Generally everything looks like its back to normal but then you'll come across a reminder. On Tuesday I went to shower at the university athletics track and it was all fenced off. Driving to the session I'd seen the trees in low-lying areas - brown and muddy to a defined line then green above. The local park is totally out-of-bounds. It had problems with sewerage leakage.

But today at the shops there was the most poignant reminder. I went to buy a new feather duster. In the cleaning equipment aisle there were row upon row of empty shelves. Looks like there'll be some businesses benefiting from the floods!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

2011 Starts Today.

My new life started today! School went back for the year and for the first time in I-don't-know-how-long I didn't have anyone going. I slept in!! Weird!

I start work today and that's weird too. It's the first beginning of the year where I don't have a partner. It's a little sad but I'll cope. I have to. I'm a little nervous though about how this will all go. This is always the busiest time of year for me so it's going to be a bit difficult knowing how much work I can take on and getting the balance right.

And talking about losing my business partner - my sister - things had been a bit (lot) strained between us since she called it quits. I felt abandoned and she felt guilty and there wasn't much but the basic communication between us. Things have improved a lot in the last month or so. And I'm so relieved. It was hard enough losing a business partner but to lose a sister and friend as well seemed to be so unfair. I wrote her a nice, supportive Christmas card (or that was the intention) and she sent me a lovely text and on the weekend we went to the movies together and it was just like it used to be. Thank goodness for time and its healing effects.

Running has started up again for me too. I had my first session back on Saturday. It was supposed to be a long slow run of 16k BUT all our running routes have been temporarily inaccessible because of the floods SO Coach Chris sent us for a run around a mountain. UGHHH!!! Damn, I hate hills. That was NOT the session that I wanted first up after 2 weeks off. It hurt - a lot. And it's still hurting - a little. Why, oh why, can't muscles remember that they've done this before? I'm just praying that our old routes are quickly back to normal.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Catching Up

The last two days have all been about catching up. Catching up with the washing and the cleaning. Catching up on the mail and emails. Catching up with what has happened with my boys in our absence. Catching up with all the news from Josh's trip to Thailand. And catching up with all the news from the flood.

Josh arrived home from Thailand on the same day we came home. He had a wonderful time. Spent all his money and then some. Wants to go back. Patted tigers and fed elephants. Got kissed by a lady-boy (sucked in Josh - we warned you to look for the adams apple). And now real life must start - job-hunting and career-building is what's on the cards for this year.

My baby, Luke, managed to get his license while we were gone. He was so cross with his Grandma for letting us know he was taking it. He's wanted to surprise us by picking us up from the airport. Plus he got his university offer and he will be studying engineering for the next 4 years.

Both Sam and Luke had been home during the flood and I can't be more proud of my boys. They helped their great aunt shift furniture away from rising flood waters. They helped their aunt with the cleaning after the floods had receded. And they worked for two days helping out friends' families with their cleaning too.

And I'm astounded by the out-pouring of goodwill that happened during and after the flood. People who were strangers just went to affected areas and helped. They evacuated people, they helped move precious belongings and afterwards they all pitched in and cleaned and scrubbed and threw rubbish onto the backs of trucks, People set up barbecues in streets and fed the workers. People from everywhere have donated to the Premier's appeal and have put on fund-raisers. And bit by bit the city is getting back to normal. When you see things like this happen it restores your faith in humanity.

I'm actually sorry that I wasn't here when it happened. I've missed a very important piece of my city's history. And I've missed being part of something very special.

But rather than leave on a wistful note I thought I'd put in a few more holiday snaps. Who'd like to visit Tassie?

An old church in Ross

The view from the burnt-out bakery at Port Arthur

A cottage in Hobart

How the locals transport their logs and their dogs

Iven and I on the grand occasion of our 25th anniversary

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Finally Pictures!

Port Arthur

The Blowhole

Tasman's Arch

Richmond Bridge - the oldest bridge in Australia and it's still being used.

Iven on our cherry picking adventure.

Wallaby (in the wild)

The wombat that let me pat it (in the wild)

Wombat scat - note the unusual cuboidal shape.

The view from our trek up to Crater's Peak at Cradle Mountain. Well worth that one hour uphill climb!

Jack my belligerent trail companion.



It's just a quick overview of the holiday. We had a great time but I was happy to get home yesterday and to sleep in my own bed. There's really no place like home!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Holiday Catch-Up

I finally have the use of my phone back. Who knew that most of Tasmania would be a black zone for my service provider? And who could foresee that we'd enter the black zone just when we wanted contact with home. Doesn't matter now. Brisbane survived without us.

The last few days have been fun, exciting, interesting and boring. The boring part was Swansea. It's on the east coast and it's a land that time forgot. The first thing we saw was a note saying that water needed to be boiled before consumption. Really?!! In the 21st century in Australia. Then there was the room. Imagine an old spinster aunt's room back in the 1950s and you'd pretty much have it. (minus the smell of moth balls) I'm not terribly fussy when it comes to accommodation - I do like a bathroom but that's about it - but this room was pretty below average. And it wouldn't have mattered if we'd been able to get out and do what we wanted. But it was raining - no, pouring with gale force winds.

After 2 days in a time warp we moved on to Tarraleah. This little town was the site of a village of workers who were building a hydro-electric plant in the 1930s. It's now a holiday resort. We were put into a lavender cottage which was huge. We managed a couple of bush walks and that night went for a spot-lighting trip, looking for animals. Success- lots of wallabies, pademelons, possums, a wombat and a spotted quoll. It was fantastic!

The next day we went to Cradle Mountain. If you ever get to Tasmania, this place is a must!! The walking tracks are as challenging as you choose and you could spend weeks here and not walk all of them. We did 3 1/2 hours on Saturday and that's when we got to get up close and personal with a wombat. I must say he wasn't very nice to pat. He was bristly and had scurvy skin but it was still a high-light.

Day 2 at Cradle Mountain saw us walking again. We'd planned on walking to Crater Lake and Falls but that was shut so we ended up at Crater Peak. 1 hour up then one hour down. It was a really challenging workout.

This morning, before we left, we went on a trail ride. I'm no horse woman but Iven used to ride. The trail went through national park to a high point where you're supposed to be able to see Cradle Mountain but it was rainy today and there was no view. And it was bitterly cold. But I had a ball. I was given Jack, a grey gelding, who had a bit of an attitude. He pretended to be good but if you were lulled into a false sense of security, he would just take off. We came to an understanding after a short battle of wills. I would be boss and he would do what he was supposed to. And by the time we got back to the stable we were good friends.

We're back in Launceston for the last two days. Tomorrow is our 25 th wedding anniversary and we'll have a nice day exploring the city. But I am looking forward to getting home.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Walks and Wombats

Just a quick post. All the family is fine. The house is fine and the animals are fine. My sister had a couple of inches in her house and I've yet to hear how the clean-up's gone or if she lost anything but at last word it looked like she was going to have to get new carpet.

The holiday is still going well. I've had no phone reception so no way of posting anything. I'm at an email kiosk and it's not easy so I apologise for any typos.

We're at
cradle Mountain which means walks, walks and more walks. We've seen an echidna, Tasmanian devil and heaps of Wombats. I've even patted a live wombat in the wild. Heaps of photos. Heaps to say and no time to say it. Keep safe everyone and kep running.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I can't believe I'm here on holidays when at home they're having to endure a watery Armageddon. All through the last week more and more of the state was declared a disaster. Now it's hit closer to home. Yesterday Toowoomba was hit by a wall of water. Toowoomba is only an hour and a half drive from Brisbane and is on top of a mountain range. People have been washed away. Homes and cars have been washed away and the disaster is now heading towards Brisbane.

Back in 1974 we had a huge flood. To prevent a subsequent flood the government built a huge dam west of the city. That dam is now at 190% and they're having to release the equivalent of the Sydney Harbour into the Brisbane River every day. Combine that with king tides and Thursday is looking grim. My house should be okay but one of my sisters may have issues. She's moved in with my Mum. And here I am miles away on holiday feeling a little helpless.

Yesterday Iven and I headed out to Port Arthur. Port Arthur is the remains of one of the country's harshest penal colonies. The worst of the worst came here. Funnily enough I saw a family name in the list of 'guests' of His Majesty. It was a fascinating day. In 1996 it was the site of Australia's worst shooting massacre. I found the Memorial Garden very moving.

On the way back to Hobart we stopped in at some natural attractions - Tasman's Arch, the Tesselated Pavement and the Blowhole.

Today's itinerary included a walk at Mt Wellington, about half an hour drve from Hobart. It was a challenging hike over a lot of boulders in the rain. We were supposed to find a natural feature called the Organ Pipes but the terrain was so rugged that we spent the whole hike watching our feet and totally missed them.

Next stop was Sorell's Fruit Farm. Pay just $12 and you get to fill a pretty big punnet with whatever fruit you want to pick. Strawberries, loganberries, youngberries, berries-that-I've-never-heard-of-but-taste-delicious, nectarines, apricots and cherries. Oh those cherries! Yum! I'm now over the Cadbury chocolate disappointment. But I was wondering if you can eat too much fruit. I think Iven and I aye almost as much as we brought away with us.

The last stop was Richmond. It's the site of Australia's oldest bridge which is still in use. It was a beautiful village. Lots of interesting shops and lovely buildings. If you like history, Tasmania is well worth a visit.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

My first half marathon for 2011 is done and it wasn't pretty. Yesterday we woke up really early so we could get up to the Cadbury factory before the roads closed. We made it - no problems - and I was feeling relaxed. I like small low-key events. They seem friendlier. I saw one of our squad on the line for the Marathon and gave her a cheer then headed to the loos. Yay! No queues! Found some more of the squad and chatted for a while then headed back to the loos. Boo! Really long queue. Time was getting short and the distant trees were starting to look appealing - but I stuck it out and finished with 5 mins to spare.

Short wait on the line and we were off. It was a 2 lap loop around the factory and then off down the road. My legs felt really off right from the start. I was running at 5 min pace and my legs just felt like they had nothing in them but I hoped they just needed to warm up. Didn't happen.

Coach Chris had told us that the course was flat. He lied! There were hills through the whole race. I'd read on a forum that there was a 250m rise somewhere and a hill at the end and I kept thinking that this hill must be the rise they were talking about. It wasn't until 16k that I realized that THIS was the one. And at that point I gave up mentally. It was awful! Went on and on and on ... My pace dropped to over six mins! Ugh!!! I shuffled home in a very ordinary time of 1:55. But I've since found out that everyone found the going tough - except CC who runs hills like they're not there.

So I was a little disappointed with the run. But I was devastated when I found only 1 small bar of chocolate in my post-race loot. They'd promised a sample bag of goodies . I would have preferred more chocolate to the travel mug. We ended up in the factory shop stocking up. And I think that was their plan!

We gave a couple of friends a ride back to their motel to collect their luggage then it was a mad dash back out to the factory for the presentations. Clare, from the squad had won the half and Sharon, also from the squad, had won the marathon. I have some fast friends!

Finally we found a cafe for breakfast then back to the motel for a shower, stretch and short nap then we were off again. There was a movie that we'd wanted to see in Brisbane but run out of time. I'd found it was on at a nearby Arthouse theatre. If you get a chance to see Sarah's Key go! It was such a great story.

In the evening we walked down to the docks to find somewhere to eat. It's such a beautiful area. It's the finish point for the Sydney to Hobart yacht race and reeks of nautical history. The little cottages are really quaint. We wandered back to the motel slowly so we could admire and photograph them. And that was the end of day #2.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Tasmania Day 1

We made it!

Brisbane airport was shut for a few hours yesterday and there was a flow-on all day. We took off about 40 mins late, which really wasn't too bad. We picked up the rental car and it didn't have a map like I'd expected. But we managed to find our hotel without too much problem. (thank goodness for very large neon signs) But it was pretty late and we hadn't eaten and there's not much open in Launceston after 11 on a Friday night. So our meal was a greasy kebab eaten on the side of the road while listening to a covers band at the local pub.

This morning's breakfast was much more civilised. We had chairs AND a table. And cutlery. And great coffee! Then we hopped into the car and drove the two and a half hours to Hobart. So far the scenery's been a bit uninspiring - lots of brown. I think Tassie has lost out in the rain stakes.

But the buildings are lovely. Tasmania was originally a penal colony ( minds out of the gutter people ) There are so many original buildings and bridges still in use. I'm hoping I can manage to post a few pics (I'm writing this on my phone)

Tomorrow's the run and chocolate and a visit to Salamanca markets.

Sorry - no luck with the pics! You'll have to be patient.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

So Long, Farewell, Auf Weidersehn, Goodbye ... For The Moment

I just want to say - I'm packed. And in plenty of time too. And I've written a list of all the jobs that need to be done daily and weekly. I AM NOT A CONTROL FREAK (much)

After this morning, I'm looking forward to being out of Brisbane. Once again it's raining. Actually it's been pouring! Our front yard has it's water feature again and the mould is growing healthily on our ceilings. Please, please let it be dry in Tasmania. But just in case it's not I've packed a raincoat and umbrella.

I'm really hoping my luggage doesn't get checked. I've packed my supplements and I could understand how that container could look a bit suspicious. Lots of tablets (manganese, B12, zinc, Vit C, ibuprofen and paracetamol) and a highly questionable white powder (colostrum - which luckily smells more like milk than high-grade heroin. Not that I'd know what heroin smells like) All we need now is for Iven to bring some of his home-dried lemon grass that he likes to have as a tea and we'd look like the most unlikely drug dealers.

I should be able to blog while I'm away from my phone as long as I have service. I just won't be able to read many blogs because I haven't yet worked out how to scroll down through them. So expect regular travel logs. You, too may find the lure of Tasmania too hard to resist and the Tasmanian government may just have to hire me as an ambassador.

Bon Voyage to me!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Holiday Anxiety

I shouldn't be sitting at the computer. I should be in my bedroom trying to decide what to take down to Tasmania for the next couple of weeks. But I am a pretty polished procrastinator (don't you just love alliteration) and I know I still have oodles of time. And my decision-making skills become keener when they're under time constraints.

Part of my procrastination issue is that some of me is not really looking forward to this holiday. I know, I know - I'm odd! I prefer to use the term "special". Planning to enjoy myself is hard to do as is spending money in the pursuit of said enjoyment. I suffer from an enormous amount of guilt. I'm feeling guilty about leaving the boys - the two who are at home at the moment (Josh is in Thailand on his "congratulations to me - I graduated" holiday). Sam is 23 and Luke is 17 and both are more than capable of looking after themselves. And they have grandparents and aunts to lean on if need be. And we're only away for 12 days. But I'm finding relinquishing responsibility hard to do.

I'm also a little worried about spending so much alone-time with my husband. Now that really sounds crazy! We've been married 25 years on the 18th of January (which is part of the reason for the trip) but it's been ages since we've been ALONE on a holiday together. In fact I think the last time we did that was on our honeymoon almost 25 years ago.

I'm not worried about fighting. We're not fighters by any stretch of the imagination. I'm just a little worried we might bore each other into a comatose state. Iven's not much of a chatter and sometimes I get tired of doing all the hard work so I'm scared that our daily word count may be able to be tallied on our fingers.

I know I'm not alone in this. My breakfast friend, Jenny, has been married for almost 30 years and when she and her husband go out for breakfast (Jenny loves going out for breakfast) they take the paper. He reads and she does the puzzles. Like Iven and I, they still love each other but sometimes there's just not a lot to talk about.

I know I'm being a little silly and that I'll come home in a couple of weeks and will have had a lovely time. But I can't help the doubts that creep into my thoughts. We've planned some lovely activities - horse-riding at Cradle Mountain, bush walking in the national parks, visiting an orchard and picking our own fruit and, of course, the little run on Sunday.

Maybe I should just go pack my bag ...

Monday, January 3, 2011

Reward For Effort

It's taken me two days to recover from Sunday's run. Two! Whole! Days! Never underestimate the effect of heat and humidity on how much and how hard you can exercise. In hind sight, it would have been far more sensible to finish at 15k, or even 12. But I am obviously not sensible. My brain said - "Okay, you've got a half marathon in 7 days and you haven't done a long run in a couple of weeks so maybe you should cram one in." All I can say is that Sunday's half WILL be much easier than Sunday's run - or today's, for that matter.

Today was speed session (of course - it's Tuesday and Tuesday is always speed) I'd promised myself an easy session because I was so knackered after Sunday's run, and because I've got a half on Sunday, and because my knee was a bit niggly last week, and because I've got a weird tight hamstring thing that isn't a strain or a tear but it feels tight, and because I only had four hours sleep last night and because today was going to be every bit as hot as Sunday. (Excuses, excuses, excuses) So we do our warm up and get put into pace groups and I start thinking that this does not bode well for running easy. And I was right!

Coach Chris's mean streak is continuing and he had us doing Kenyans again - but not just ordinary, nasty Kenyans ... we had to do 2k Kenyans!! I knew I was going to be in a world of pain. And I was right. The only redeeming feature of this session was that it finished! And my knee didn't hurt, not one little bit. And I probably was 2 kilos lighter when I finished (but not now).

After the session I had breakfast with Jenny. We have it at a lovely outdoor eating area which we have to share with the local wildlife. Today we had to share our table with a butcher bird.

He sat on the back of a seat and watched us eating. Of course I couldn't resist feeding him a small bit of my toast, which he took right from my fingers. He spent some time swallowing it (it was a bit dry and he didn't have any coffee to wash it down with) and then, to thank me he burst into this beautiful song. It was like a birdy flash mob! All the other diners stopped eating to listen and once he'd finished they refrained from applause so he wouldn't be scared away. And I rewarded his efforts with another piece of toast. What a smart bird!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Last Long Run Before Hobart

My knee was a little upset about having to run so many hills last week so Coach Chris banned me from coming to the session that he'd planned today. Personally, I didn't know how the group was going to cope without me - seeing as I am THE most popular runner in the group as voted by them. So I decided to run my long slow route past where they would be running - just to give them a lift. (I did have permission to run from CC as long as I didn't have many hills in the route)

It was interesting running up the river path. We've had a ridiculous amount of rain in Queensland over December - three times our normal yearly average. The dams that were down to 20% capacity are now at 122% (I know - it didn't make sense to me either) The far north has entire towns evacuated and houses flooded to the rooftops. Brisbane hasn't fared too badly but the river path showed where the water got to last week when there were a few king tides. There was debris all over the path - bottles, branches, water weed, and a knee pad. I some places the entire path had been under water and other places still had water lapping at the path.

It took about 10k until I ran into the group (no, not literally) and, just as I'd suspected, they were mighty pleased to see me. Probably a little less pleased when they realised I hadn't brought cupcakes. Seriously, people! Where am I supposed to carry cupcakes when I'm running? They would be crumbs by the time I'd arrived.

I got to run a couple of k back to Southbank with the group but them had to continue on cause there was still a way to go to get home. It was tough going. I was trying to keep my heart rate low and I'd managed to for the first 15k but it didn't matter how slow I ran now, it was pushing 170. And I was ready to be finished. Not the most confidence-building run to have the week out from a race.

When my watch beeped at 20k I stopped and walked the last 200 m home. Then I got on the computer and checked out the temperature. No wonder it was such a struggle - the perceived temperature was 27 degrees C (80 F) at the start and rose to 30C (86F) by the end. And the humidity was 92%. My heart was having to work overtime just to try and keep me cool. Next Sunday in Hobart the start temperature should be about 8 or 9C
and it should max out around 20C (68F) Now that's the sort of weather I like to run in!