Friday, November 14, 2014

Can't complain about the British Summer

No, I can't complain, because having got back to the UK in mid May, it is true to say that the summer in England has been good with lots of sunshine.
I took a trip up to Lords to watch the Womens International match between the MCC Women and The Rest of the World Women.
It was a beautiful sunny day and Charlotte Edwards was interviewed on the field of play.
The ground was looking good

Suzie Bates won the toss and chose take her ROW team in to bat first.

There is nothing nicer than sitting in the sunshine and watching a quality game of cricket.

The ROW were batting well

At the end of 50 overs there was a healthy score on the board
MCC Women were scoring runs but not enough
Charlotte Edwards top scored as usual

However, the MCC Women could not reach the required total.

 The final scorecard shows a well earned win for the ROW women
Early in June I went on a steam train trip from Woking to Swanage.
At Swanage I made the mistake of having a largish pub lunch and then walking up the very steep climb to the Durlston County Park. The view from the castle made it worth it. I took the bus back down the hill to the station.
 Black 5 was ready to take us back up towards London
 One of the old semaphore signals at Swanage
Later in June there was cycle racing around the streets of Woking town centre.
Here are the pits.
Ride for the Elite Cycle Team and get a pink bike
A bit of a lead but still an hour of racing ahead
Hard work under sunny skies.
Eileen Roe won the ladies race and Tom Stewart won the men's.
In July I went to see my youngest daughter who lives in Malvern. We went for a walk across the Malvern Hills.
Malvern bloom
My eldest daughter has temporarily moved back to the UK from Sydney. Later in July I visited her new home near Much Hadham. We went for a walk through the local cornfields.
This Green Tye is a village and not a curry. It was a great place to stop for refreshment at the local pub.
In August I caught up with my daughter again and she works at a well known bank just across the road from the Royal Exchange.
I visited a museum and got to lift this gold bar weighing 28 lbs
 St Pauls was on my walk back towards Waterloo Station
I took this photo from the Wibbly Wobbly bridge.
 The South Bank featuring the recently opened Shard
Another trip to Malvern and here is the village of Powick in the distance. 
Ok, so the summer is over now and the weather in England is not so nice. The need to get back to sunshine has become overwhelming so in January I will be off to Adelaide for a month. It will probably be damn hot there, but I plan do some cycling, watch cricket and visit some of the Tour Down Under events. No doubt I will also be seeking out the source of most of the red wines that fill my local Woking supermarket shelves. ie McLaren Vale, Barossa, Adelaide Hills, etc.

Until the next time


Monday, April 21, 2014

Royal visit

My return to the UK is imminent and next month I will be arriving in England to pleasant spring weather (fingers crossed).

During my stay in Sydney I have been getting most of my grocery needs using online shopping and thus avoiding the problem of carrying heavy or bulky items. It has been a mixed experience. I mainly used Woolworth's but found that almost every delivery was late. Maybe that is less of a concern for me as I have plenty of free time and I was compensated for the inconvenience by having the delivery fee refunded.
However, eventually Woolworth's started to provide me with a credit instead of a refund and make excuses about their terms and conditions allowing late delivery.
Time for a change then. So I switched to Coles, and guess what, no more late deliveries. However, I often have a number of items that I had ordered, replaced with substituted alternatives or just plain missing. So I have to say neither company meet my needs and by returning to England I will not be having to concern my self with grocery deliveries.

I went for a walk in the Botanical Gardens recently and there was this bamboo tree.
Also a banana tree
I did see a Preying Mantis in some begonias but my camera would insist on focussing on a spiders web and not my intended subject so I did not get the picture.

A day or so later, I walked over the Harbour Bridge.
The Opera House was it's usual stunning self.
A sailing ship that they use for taking tourists around the harbour, although they only put up a scrap of sail which looks odd and unlike the sales brochure.
On my walk down Observatory Hill I saw this charming little residence, however I later learned that someone paid over a million dollars for it.
Flags in Darling Harbour, although the majority of the place is one ernomous demolition site. Even the monorail has gone.
Old and new, looking across to the increasingly horrific Barangaroo building site.
The royal visit to Sydney by William, Cate and new son George caused a buzz in Sydney. Cate (in yellow) was arriving next door at Admiralty House after a short boat trip from the Opera House.
The gates of Admiralty House.
I took a couple videos of the royals when they were in the vicinity and you can see them here.

Crossing the harbour after visiting the Opera House.

Motor cavalcade returning from a trip to the Blue Mountains.

I even got a wave from Prince William.

Being a royalist, I was happy to have them staying next door for a few days. However they never did come round to borrow a cup of sugar.

You can see their live view of Sydney Harbour here (or at least you can for the next few weeks before I take down the webcam)

Some of the police escort.

Early this morning, the sun was reflecting from this office block.
Well the royals have left Sydney now, and we have had a sunny Easter. I must make the most of my remaining time here.


Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Updates from Sydney

Having been in Sydney for a few months now it is about time that the blog was updated.

I flew out from the UK to Sydney with British Airways. I chose them primarily on price but I was a bit dubious about them having had a generally poor experience with them in the past. However, I have used Malaysia Airlines on a number of previous occasions, but the more that comes out about the unfortunate loss of MH370, the more I realise that I will never fly Malaysia Airlines again. It is a combination of things such as influence, culture, training of cockpit crew and the mishandling by government that puts me right off them.

I am renting a place in Kirribilli and when I look out of the window I see this view
Yes, that is the Queen Mary 2
We had has some foggy mornings

The sunsets can be good too.
The flagstaff up on observatory hill
The Manly ferry is approaching its destination
The city can be seen in the distance from this North Head monument
Manly beach
Opera House
South Head lighthouse at the harbour entrance.
Practising over the harbour prior to the Melbourne Grand Prix
The Newcastle harbour entrance
Foreshore houses seen on a trip to Paramatta
There was a big fire on the Barangaroo building site
Ocean Shield at Garden Island. It is now searching for MH370 in the Indian Ocean.
At Milsons Point
Pelicans in Woolongong
The industrial bit of Woolongong
In March I went on a heritage train trip to the wine growing area of Cessnock in the Hunter Valley.
Although I had to get a local train from here to Central first.
There was plenty of wine tasting.
Some Hunter Valley vines.
A Noisy Miner bird at Kirribilli
Disappearing on Cockatoo Island
Warehouse waterfall
A Sunday morning paddle
Kirribilli as seen from the Harbour Bridge
Bondi Icebergs
Pink handbag outside the Customs House
On the bridge
Container ship leaves Port Botany
I have been watching the 2014 Formula 1 races on a local free to air tv channel. I must admit that the new cars sound awful so I will not be going to watch any lives races while this continues. Someone at a track described the cars as sounding like a "sewing machine on wheels". Maybe the powers that be, do not care if you do not go to watch races live, as long as you watch the races on tv. In practice that seems to mean using some sort of subscription tv service. In my case I just record or download the race and watch it at my leisure while skipping over any ad breaks. I use free to air channels or the delayed free BBC coverage.
The other thing that is spoiling F1 is the requirement to make the race run at a time so that it can be seen live during a peak viewing time in Europe. As it is a world championship series, this often results in races been run at peculiar local times of day such as dusk when the sun is at a low angle, or at night. The trend towards night races around dusty, desert circuits with no crowd seems harmful to keeping enthusiasts such as me interested. On top of that there seems to be a raft of silly new rules. For instance this year the drivers have all had to lose weight in order to meet the new weight rules with a heavier car design. Some drivers are realling struggling with weight loss and are close to being unfit to drive with the possibilty of this causing safety issues.

As my interest in F1 has waned, my interest in cricket has increased. In fact the FIA and Formula One management are pushing me away from motorsport.
Recently the World T20 championships have been taking place in Bangladesh. Both the England and Aussie men teams were knocked out before the final and I was following the fortunes of the England Women's team.
They seemed to do OK as the tournament progressed but there were some strange team selections. For instance Tammy Beaumont is supposedly a batter although she is also apparently quite good in the field. Anyway she played in four of the five matches in the tournament coming in as the number 3 bat on two occasions. Her batting average over these four matches was just 2.5 runs. Surely a more agressive batter is needed this high up the order. Although the England Women made it to the final against Australia, England were thrashed by Australia (again) on the day. During the tourament the Aussie womens scored 18 sixes (3 during the final) while the England women did not score a single six during their entire time in Bangladesh. Says it all really. I will continue to support the England Womens team and have seen them win a lot of matches in the past, but I cannot help wondering about some of these team selections, especially when many other nations teams are impoving rapidly.

Ah well, having had a bit of a whinge, it is time to get back to enjoying my remaining weeks in Sydney before I return to England under the care of British Airways.

Bye for now