Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sydney getting expensive

As a UK expat it seems that it is getting harder to be able to afford to live in Sydney.
When I was here in Sydney in October 2009 I got over 2.6 dollars for every one British Pound.
Today the rate is 1.47 AUD/GBP and the trend over the last four years is down. More on this later.

I have taken a few more photos but my Samsung WB850F camera is in for repair again. I would not advise anybody to purchase this model as it has caused me no end of trouble. It is still within it's 12 month warranty period and this is the second time it has been back for repair. The problems that I have had are :-

Battery goes flat in a few days even with camera switched off.

GPS only works occasionally and is extremely slow when it decides to work.

Camera fails to focus at some zoom settings.

Camera freezes on switch on. Battery removal and much fiddling with settings gives temporary recovery by which time the event that you wanted to photograph is long gone.

WiFi feature almost useless, very slow and power hungry.

PC software very poor and I do not use it as a result.

Slow to switch on and slow to respond to a press of the shutter release.

By contrast I did have the previous version of this camera the WB650 and found this very useable and reliable. Unfortunately I left the old camera back in the UK.

Anyway here are a few photos.

A superstructure has spawned in front of the AMP building.
Yacht racing in the harbour.
I have been trying my hand at some home baking.
On the ferry approaching Circular Quay.
Back to the cost for a British expat living in Australia
This chart shows how the number of Australin dollars (AUD) that you get for one British Pound (GBP) has fallen over the last four years.

The trend is down and just recently the UK had its AAA credit rating reduced. There was also comment suggesting that the level of UK debt would not start to reduce until 2016. So maybe it will be another three years before the exchange rate trend changes direction. Who knows ?

In the meantime here is a chart showing how the Consumer Price Index (CPI) has risen over the last decade.
So with the cost of living in Sydney continually rising and the value of the British Pound continually falling, my bread making skills may come in handy once a store bought loaf of bread becomes unaffordable.
Maybe this is the price that you have to pay to live in a beautiful city.


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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Oz win again

Well the Australian Women's cricket team won the 50 over World Cup at the tournament held in Mumbai.
They beat the West Indies team in the final. The Southern Stars had also won the T20 World Cup recently so are doing well. In August they will be competing against England for the Ashes at Wormsley. I will be there for that one match series. I hope that the England team can make the match less boring.

In Mumbai, it was a rather strange and unsatisfactory series format. Admittedly, the England women played below par and ended up in third spot. However it was poor to see that at the deciding games for the final, England play New Zealand, only for the Australia v West Indies match to start later in the day. This meant that Oz and W.I. knew the result of Eng v NZ and could adjust their play to suit. In fact England beat NZ and needed Oz to beat W.I. to set up an Eng v Oz final. Strangely, the Australian team lost to the West Indies for the first time ever. So England were not in the final and the Australian women would compete against the West Indian women in the final, having just LOST to them. Most finals are contested between two teams that have won semi finals, but here we had losers playing in the final. What a mess. I hope they improve on this for the next World Cup.
I could not find any streamed video of the final and listened to some of the audio commentary.
This time Australia easily beat the West Indies to capture the World Cup.

Meanwhile, I was having problems with my iPhone and decided to take it apart. The disturbance test seems to have done the trick and it has been fine since I re-assembled it.

The ferry wharf at the nearby Taronga Zoo
Camp Cove beach
Standing as if frozen by the MCA. Hard to see how it makes you fitter ?
Pilot boats
Replica of HMB Endeavour
The Sydney harbour entrance viewed from South Head
I'd rather be sailing
It seems that we are due for another spell of wet weather. At least it is not cold.


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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sydney strolls and World Cup cricket

Over the last few days I have been out and about in Sydney but also attempting to use my pc to keep up with progress in the Womens World Cup that is taking place in India.

In the group stage of the competition, I was able to watch snippets of various matches via certain streaming sites. However the sites kept being shut down for possible copyright reasons and so I resorted to listening to the radio commentary from BBC radio 5 live sports extra, via a proxy server on my iPad.
While the commentary from Ebony Rainford-Brent was informative and knowledgeable (she recently was in the England squad), the rubbish spouting from the mouth of Charles Dagnall was dreadfull. He spent ages filling his gaps in knowledge about the teams by droning on about his old team-mates, his hair, his clothing, etc. What a bore. I soon found myself turning down the volume during his stints and finding new streaming channels.

Having played reasonably well during the warm up matches, when the tournament started it was important for England to beat all of their opposition during the group stage, namely, Sri Lanka, India and the West Indies.
England got off to a shocker and were beaten by Sri Lanka. The result and performance was so bad that apparently the team decided to consign it to history and not analyse it or talk about it. However the groups stage was decided on points and that was the first two available points lost.
The team then played the West Indies and won. 2 point in the bag.

Their last group stage match against the hosts, India was also a must win match. England managed to do it with a win and Charlotte Edwards' score of 109 runs was a major factor in the result.
Here Sarah Taylor is building up to her contribution of 35 runs.
Anyway, England had qualified to move on into the Super Sixes stage. As you take forward your points scored against qualifying teams, England were taking forward only 2 points, whereas Australia who had won every match had 4 points.

I had a look at the fountain in Hyde Park
A visit to the Royal Botanical Gardens was called for. I did take some panoramic photos and these can be seen by using the link on my website
An event involving sand on the Customs House forecourt at Circular Quay.
Sirius Cove headland view.
The CBD as a backdrop to Cremorne Point.
On a bush walk.
England's first match in the Super Sixes was against Australia. England got off to the best possible start by winning the toss and putting Australia in to bat on a damp early morning wicket. Also Australia's fast bowler Elysse Perry was not in their squad. Australia only managed to score 147 in their innings. It looked a certain win for England. However, the England batsmen failed badly and Sarah Taylor got her second duck. England only had a low total to reach and fifty overs to do it, but with 9 maiden overs, 12 overs with 1 run scored, and 5 overs with 2 runs scored, that was 26 overs for only 22 runs scored. You cannot expect to win by playing like that. It was not a great example of England Women's cricket to televise. The England loss was no surprise.
This picture shows Sarah Coyte as she clocked up useful runs in partnership with Lisa Sthalekar.
A break from cricket to see the parabolic mirror outside the Museum of Contemporary Art.
It was now looking a forlorn hope for England to get into the World Cup final and defend their title.
Their next match was in Cuttack against South Africa and not televised. The BBC Radio 5 live broadcast descended into farce when their commentary team did not get to the ground until halfway through the game. Then the communications link kept failing during the time when they were there. Having Charles Dagnell commentating was the last straw so I watched the Australia v Sri Lanka match instead. Australia won and are now in the final.
Poor Sarah Taylor got her third consecutive duck but England still got a good win through the excellent bowling of Anya Shrubsole whose figures were 5 wickets for 17 runs from her 10 overs. The next England match and probably their last in this tournament is against New Zealand on Wednesday.


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Friday, February 01, 2013

Pottering around Sydney

Over January we had some extremes of weather around Sydney. Everything from a really hot day with a temperature of over 45°C to two days of continuous rain caused by the remnants of Cyclone Oswald. The weather was worse in other parts of NSW with many areas having out of control bush fires, and others with flooding. Sydney got off relatively lightly and I managed to get out and about on mainly sunny days. Here are some of the photos that I took on my trips.

I went to Chowder Bay by bus and then walked to Middle Head from there. This is the view from Middle Head looking across the harbour entrance towards South Head. The Manly ferry is passing by.
The start of a yacht race in the harbour.
Looking towards Manly
A Sydney sunset from my apartment.
I went by train to Austinmer via the Royal National Park. Here is the beach at Austinmer.
Hills in the background.
A lot of people around here were worried about fracking.
I walked along the coast to Thirroul.
The beach was much quieter at Thirroul.
Time to head home, so waiting at a rather deserted Thirroul station.
Maybe someone knows what the heck all these signals mean.
A few days later and they were filming a show from "The Biggest Loser". On this day the overweight contestants were abseiling down the AMP building in Circulat Quay.
Reaching the end of the 100 metre descent. It was also a very hot day. I was watching from an open air bar at the nearby Customs House library. I was having a nice cool beer with my daughter who was on her lunch break. She bought the beers.
My webcam shows a temperature on that day of 44.9°C but it had exceeded 45.
I had a trip to Manly one afternoon and here is the ferry.
A walk from Mosman to Spit Bridge via Quakers Hat Bay starts near the Mosman war memorial.
A suburban street in Mosman.
My first sight of Quakers Hat bay.
The foreshore walk was a bit more challenging than I had expected and it was a hot day.
Nice view.
Kids were on a sailing course near Spit Bridge.
A Spit Bridge marina.
On a warm late afternoon I walked around Farm Cove to Mrs Macquarie's Chair where I took this photo.
Another day, another walk. This time the view is across Mosman Bay while on the way to Cremorne Point.
A great evening at the concert hall in the Sydney Opera house. They were screening the film "2001, a space odyssey" but with the music played live by a large orchestra along with the sound effects from a choir of 30+ members. I will never forget that evening. The music and overall effect was stunning.
The next day was Australia Day when the weather started to deterioate. There was the usual race of the Sydney ferries in the harbour.
The fireboat and some wet yachtsmean.
This sound stage was pushed over to Athol Bay and there was a live and loud performance by Jessica Mauboy and others. By the evening the weather was getting bad.
A few days later there was the rare sight of a submarine going around in circles in the harbour.
Old and new.
The Allen Border oval at Mosman. Hopefully they will play some cricket here soon.
"Carnival Spirit" moored at the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay.
A look back while cruising down the Parramatta River. The water is still brown from all the heavy rain.
It had seemed that I had not done very much during January but the photos show that there were some sunny days.

Hoping for good weather in February and of course it is the Womens World Cup fifty over cricket tournament being held in India. Having said that, the male dominated organisation suddenly changed the venues and schedule just days before it was all due to start. Hopefully the media and teams were able to recover from this shambles. It seems that choosing India as a venue is a high risk strategy.


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