welcome Bon Scott

I am very happy to be able to raise the mood here today! Today my friend and once-upon-a-time housemate Fiona just happened to be free and we made spontaneous plans to ride to Brunswick East for breakfast at Milkwood followed by a garage sale next to Triple R radio.

For spontaneous plans, they could not have been more perfect. Today is a beautiful crisp sunny day, perfect for being outside. The route from my house to Brunswick East is nearly entirely along Merri Creek trail, and the small sections of road all have low car traffic and dedicated bike paths, perfect for my first real ride in more or less a year. Fiona is a sheer delight to spend time with, as she has such a sunny and generous disposition (plus us gingers have to stick together). Breakfast is the best meal of the day (I had ham and cheese on toast with tomato and fior di latte, and a glorious banana and blueberry smoothie). Garage sales are quintessentially Melbourne and so full of bargains — after promising myself before I got there to not spend more than $20, I picked up teal skinny jeans for $5, and a day-glow hot pink summer frock for $10, so came in well under budget.

Riding my bike along Merri Creek was truly the ideal way to boost my spirits after such an exhausting week. When I first hit the river and came round the bend, I was blinded for a second by the glittering waters… So happy!
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Even if Runkeeper felt it worth pointing out that the ride up there was my 30th slowest time… Let’s blame that on me getting lost a couple of times. Not on me being hugely out of shape (although I never got off and pushed!), gasping for breath at times (and my sitting bones are SO SORE now despite wearing cycling shorts!).
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Fiona and I rode together part of the way home, so I asked her to take a picture of me and Bon Scott and Merri Creek.
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Yes! I have finally baptised the new bike (which I’ve only had for… 6 months? and never ridden). I saw a poster for the Bon Scotts as I was locking New Bike up before breakfast, and as I was coming back to get him afterwards, suddenly Bon Scott seemed like the perfect name for him. I may call him Bonnie for short though.

Updating to add a picture of the dress that is so day-glo I’m practically under UV light when I wear it!
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A conspicuous absence of updates in the past few months. I am not a fan of winter and even less so in the Southern Hemisphere, because July and August should be full of long, glorious sunny warm days, and instead here in Melbourne it has been ridiculously cold.

This doesn’t mean I have not done anything, fortunately!

I’ve made this a photo-based update rather than the other way around. This tends to work better for summarising an entire month. But this makes it very photo-heavy, so brace yourselves. What am I saying! I am showing my age… Back in the day it was common courtesy to warn before dumping pictures but now… who’d even notice?

Sooo backing up a bit to July:

I went to see the last performance of Mikelangelo and the Tin Stars, aka the only band I’ve ever truly enjoyed watching live.
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I got a haircut, hoping my curls could be coaxed back, but they seem to have been the exclusive domaine of my twenties and I am resigning myself to not having curly hair anymore.
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I bought some expensive cycling shorts and before I’d even worn them once, managed to cut a hole in them whilst removing annoying tags:
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My cold morning runs were dark dark dark but I kept running until the sun came up:
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I invested in a lot of merino from Icebreaker — it keeps me warm as toast, and it’s like having a hug from James as he is the one who got me into Icebreaker in the first place.
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More love from James came in the form of 3 kilos of birthday Kitkats, delivered anonymously to my desk at work.
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I had a lovely night out catching up with my friends Magnus, Thomas and Alastair. This sculpture hangs in the kitchen of Tom’s warehouse.
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More pics taken when out running — I do so love living so close to Merri Creek. It may be less dark…
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…palm trees may sway against a backdrop of brilliant blue skies…
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…but trust me it’s just as cold as the pre-dawn runs.
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Preparing vast amounts of caramelised onion for my birthday high tea. In the end I made around 4 times too much and I’ve still got about a kilo of it in the fridge.
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I also roast my first chicken for said tea party (to make adorable mini-sandwiches). Fiona came home in time to egg me into eating roast chicken skin for the first and last time in years — I don’t think I’ve eaten it since I was a child! It tasted simultaneously delicious, decadent, and nauseatingly rich. No regrets.
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Making Pimm’s cake from Siobhan’s recipe!
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Here I am in my party frock, with friends in the background hard at work.
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The dress is a gorgeous brocade shot through with gold thread – hard to photograph, so you will have to trust me!
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My 30th birthday high tea was lovely, but I failed to take any proper pictures. Here are a few I salvaged off other people!

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Rebecca made these fabulous mini-pavlovas
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My actual 30th birthday was a Monday and the first day of school. I ate a delicious leftover cupcake for breakfast (actually I ate mostly cake for the entire week, as there were a lot of cupcakes and cake leftover).
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There were relatively few events during school that I could photograph, as it was Preventive Conservation (which I think is going to Be My Thing, career-wise) and so the exciting stuff was mostly confidential site visits. I took a lot of pictures anyway, and am sharing just a couple of tantalising shots below, but I can’t tell you where they are of course…

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We did a few interested lab sessions, one about salvaging paper after floods:
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Another was on cleaning mould:
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We had a go at preparing Oddy tests too (which were difficult to photograph as we were in a hurry, hence the blurriness and someone’s fluffy sleeve:
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Some fun times outside of school: finding the cat in my backpack…
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And being greeted with this fantastic scene on a morning run (it’s the Orthodox Greek Cathedral, which I often run past, but which really glows when the sun hits it right!):
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Running has unsurprisingly resulted in shin splints again, so I am taking a break and giving kinesiotherapy tape a go. I do feel like it works pretty well in relieving the pain, if not in solving the problem.
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I got an amazing book of bike rides around Melbourne from my beloved Rebecca as a birthday gift. I decided to go check out Port Phillip Bay.
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Brace yourselves for many pictures of the sea!
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This bit of road was flooding, which made riding through it extra fun!
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Picnic on the pier!
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On my way home I passed these lovely Scottish deerhounds which mummy will appreciate:
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Ok that’s all the photos I have! I have not been photodocumenting things much in the past week — I was too wrapped up in my work situation. But now we have waded through all of this: I have accepted a new job with a cultural study tour company, and will start in October. I will be researching and designing cultural tours all around the world, and I’m really excited and glad that I’ve made the leap. It was a big decision to quit my current job but now it’s finalised I realise it’s the best choice I could have made!

fly july

I have not been terribly assiduous about updating these past few weeks. I had to cut back on cycling after a 65km ride destroyed my sit-bones, making it impossible to climb back onto my bike (even now a full 2 weeks later, I can’t ride for more than a few minutes, despite having a new saddle and some special padded bikeshorts!). I have broken up with Bikram, for reasons I’m not entirely clear about myself other than not feeling like I’m in the right space to make it work at the moment. James-the-superhero was supposed to come back from Afghanistan for 10 days but sadly it was cancelled days after it was approved, which is disappointing. And whilst I’ve been walking lots — an average of 20-25km a week — it’s nearly all been walking home from work in the evenings, so not actually worth reporting on.

I have finished my ceramics classes and will do a post on that soon, I promise! I’m starting school again on the 29th of July so I have a lot of reading to do in preparation. It’s been a welcome break as I’ve been put in a management position at work and really have not had the headspace for studying in the evenings, but I’m going to have to snap back into it as there are hundreds and hundreds of pages to be read in the next 2 weeks!

Today I have been spurred into updating because I finally went for my first run in ages and ages. I have swallowed my pride and downloaded a “Couch to 10k” app, as it’s just not realistic for me to come back from injury and trust myself not to push too hard. This morning I ran/walked along Merri Creek — I’m so lucky to live just 5 minutes’ walk from the river — and realised how much I needed some discipline in my approach. The first run is super basic: 5 minute warm-up, then for 20 minutes alternate 1 minute running with 1.5 minutes walking. EASY, right? and it felt so amazing to be running that I was always annoyed at having to switch to walking. But I would not have been able to maintain running for 20 minutes — especially as I’m excited to see my running pace was 4:30min/km!!!

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I was kind of naughty in that when the timer on the app said “Cooldown: walk for 5 minutes”…. I ran another 2. And that is precisely why I always hurt myself. So I am going to try and stick to this programme, with the goal in mind not to be running 5km in a few weeks, like I know I could be, but to be running without injuring myself… which I’ve never succeeded in doing before.

things I saw on my bike today

Such a glorious day! Really, there is no better way to spend Melbourne winter days than riding a bike — the skies are bright blue and the sun shines, but it’s very frosty and if you stay at home you just get colder and colder, whereas if you’re peddling along in the sunshine you feel warm and happy. Because I knew my sinuses would make trouble if they got cold, I had a Sudafed before I left and wore a nice woollen headband over my ears and forehead, as well as my neckwarmer which I pulled over my nose and mouth whenever it was too cold. Did I look ridiculous? probably, but no sinus pains! huzzah.

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It was 25km one way and only 22km on the way back, as the way home was easier to work out and didn’t involve going back to the house to put on extra warm socks.

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During my ride I saw:

A man playing bagpipes by himself.

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6000 MAMILs (Middle-Aged Men In Lycra) doing the Melburn-Roobaix ride, in the opposite direction to me, over a very high, very narrow bridge.

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Around a dozen quite unsporty-looking individuals running along, very out of breath and clutching what looked like a television antenna in one hand and a map in the other. Some had smaller devices and were less out of breath, but they all looked very happy and excited.

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I suppose none of the above are any more absurd than we were running the Hash…

I rejoiced as usual in the skies — Australia’s skies have always felt just a touch more special than anywhere else.

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And the crispness of the shadows made me happy also.

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This slippery warning sign contributed to my good mood:

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Also spotted in amusing signs. Artists of Australia, beware!

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At Adrian and Yuan’s I was served delicious dumplings, which they make themselves every week. They are hoping to set up a dumpling café — and I have to say, I hope they do as these dumplings are addictive and delicious. I ate most of the bowlful below.

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Although gorgeous wee Lenny had a few too!

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My ride home again, this time the satellite view to make it slightly more exciting.

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happy rainy saturday

Ashtanga was… perfection! I hadn’t been for over two years (my last class was apparently on the 1st of April 2011) and it felt so much like coming home. I walked in and Amanda was at the desk, looking her usual serene and beautiful self. Her eyes widened in surprise and her hands flew up to greet me, as she exclaimed at how long it had been. She remembered my name and even remembered us hugging goodbye over next to the chai pot — I remembered it of course, but I was ever so touched that she would remember too, because it has been ages and she must have so many students. We talked about some of the places I’d been and were both really excited. She was keen for me to return to practice, offering to pick me up in the morning as she drives past my street every day for the 6:30am class, such a lovely, kind and generous woman.

I have to admit that I’ve missed the figurative warmth of my ashtanga school — Bikram is hot yoga but the people who practice are a bit cold. I have complained about this before but everyone is so po-faced at Bikram, whereas at ashtanga everything is beautiful, smells NICE (there is always a huge pot of chai ticking over in the kitchen) and people smile and greet each other. Much more welcoming.

And the yoga? Well, I was thrilled to see how much more flexible I am now thanks to Bikram. I can easily wedge my palms under my feet with my head to my knees and my legs straight as pokers, and now my heels never leave the ground during downward dog. However those push-ups in chaturanga — not so great. Ashtanga is a proper strength workout. I’m going to be soooo sore once my muscles realise what hit them.

So in conclusion… Bikram? Ashtanga? I need both. Bikram brings me flexibility, mental strength, amazing skin and absolute silence in that chattering little mind of mine. Ashtanga brings me strength, poise and hippy love vibes (and chai!). So I am going to have to find a way to fit in 3 classes a week of Bikram and at least 2 of ashtanga. Fortunately after class, Rebecca and I located the lululemon outlet store in Collingwood… I was very restrained and only purchased a pair of hot yoga shorts and an awesome bikechain waterbottle.

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The waterbottle reminded me to head over to the bike shop and get a new inner tube, proper lights (my current ones are really not bright enough) and this fantastic wee repair kit. Who can believe they are so tiny and lightweight? I seem to remember daddy made us carry gigantic ones, although I’m realising now it’s probably because they included a spare inner tube, a latex glove, a bottle of bike chain lube and god knows what else. Still, this one is perfect so I need never travel without again. I didn’t choose it in pink, by the way… the guy in the shop chose it for me… >__<

Can't wait to fix Gary tomorrow. Then I can have a weekend of ABCs: Ashtanga, Bikram and Cycling!

flooding with love for the kid

(Title stolen from an excellent film)

This morning I woke up and asked Siri what the weather was like. “It’s wet out there”, she told me, and then showed me a miserable hourly forecast of rain, rain and more rain.

I huddled further under my blankets and double duvets and thought about writing off my morning bike ride plans as “Oh well, the weather.” Then I thought about how disappointed I am in myself when I spend the whole morning in bed, and I thought about how much I love wearing my lululemon running tights, and I got up and layered on a lululemon yoga top, Icebreaker hoodie, and my rain jacket. I felt like a pro. Then I remembered the misery of my sinuses on the last ride — the cold wind gets in through my nose and ears and gives me blinding headaches. So I pulled on my biker-neck-scarf-headband thinger, tucked my hair in, and plonked my helmet on, and suddenly looked far less pro.

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Anyway, enough complaining — time to brave the elements. I went out to get Gary from the shed and suddenly, the rain stopped. And hasn’t started again since. Which I am very happy about. However, within minutes of heading out (I’m afraid I’m not very imaginative about my bike rides at the moment, it’s all Capital City Trail until my legs are stronger), I realised the rain was still going to do its best to thwart me.

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It rained like CRAZY last night. There was a huge storm, and I was loving it, as I was tucked up in bed warm and cosy, listening to the thunder and emailing back and forth with my ginger ninja in Afghanistan. But this morning, I realised all that rain had to go somewhere… and that somewhere was the Yarra. Big, brown, raging!

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So many sections of the East of the trail between Merri Creek and Toorak were under water. Each time I had to find my way back to the road and then hope I would eventually hit the trail again… which I did.

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These two ducks were whirling around and being swept away down the river. I was a tiny bit worried for them, but I turned and saw them come out the other side of the bridge and they looked supremely happy. Just some white water rafting for ducks!
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Kayaks! you can’t tell from a static picture but they were being thrown around just like the ducks — and enjoying it just as much too.
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At Collingwood Children’s Farm, I spotted a peacock roosting up on top of a shed, with a smart red tractor in front of him. There were actually a few other peahens roosting on roofs — I can’t visualise how they get up there as I’ve never seen a peacock fly, but they must have.
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Just near this part of the trail, I unintentionally interrupted a lady who had dropped her dog’s leash and was embracing a tree, shushing it. I suppose she was concerned for the tree’s well-being after last night’s storm… I wondered if the other trees were traumatised watching one of their own floating down the river.
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Hello Skipping Girl.
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More “Thou shalt not pass”
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A glimpse of bright blue sky in the Docklands!
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Rosie and Gary, kind of muddy.
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The Yarra was so much crazier up along the Yarra Bends of course, but there were always ways to work around it. However the section between Docklands and Kensington — which I had some premonition wouldn’t necessarily be easy to navigate — did have several flooded sections, and the worst one didn’t have an overpass. So… I wiggled my toasty warm toes in my nice dry running shoes… took a deep breath, and began to navigate my way through the dark water, hoping that the reeds and rubbish swirling around me wouldn’t upset Gary. I was using that sneaky technique where you half peddle forwards and then back-peddle to keep your toes out of the water, but… we hit a tree branch and I had no choice but to get my feet wet. And my ankles and calves. Whilst it was a bit off-putting to wade through the dark, rush-filled water, it wasn’t so bad.

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Plus I don’t mind having soaking wet running shoes, thanks to my all-too-brief months running the China Hash in Taiwan. I actually kind of enjoyed it… it reminded me of scrambling through rivers and over slippery boulders trying to keep up with the other runners… I digress, but I was still grateful for the slightly more adventurous streak I developed in Taiwan.

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Especially as everyone I met along the way ended up turning back rather than wade through the water. Weaklings! That’s me, tougher than the average woman :p

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It ended up being nearly 34km, and because of all the flooding and the stops and starts, it took so long! I have friends who could run that faster than I cycled it. But I feel good!

Aprés l’effort, le réconfort! Brunch on the couch.
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And now I’m studying in the library as planned snuggling in bed before I go to see The Great Gatsby with Nom. I have no desire to see this film, but I am somewhat encouraged by this review by Siobhan, who despite sharing my strong dislike of the book, found the film bearable, if not exactly riveting. I will report back!

back on my bike

I had everything carefully scheduled for my Saturday. I would get up at 9, go to the Ian Potter around 10am to examine the exhibit I am writing my next essay on, I would drift over to the library to find a couple of books I needed for said essay, I would put in a couple of hours of reading before heading over to a conservation symposium from 2 to 4pm. Then I would settle down in the Graduate study room and get in 6 proper hours of writing. 10pm, head home.

This was of course the follow-up to my Friday of work all day, study till 7pm, Bikram 8-10pm. Instead, around Friday lunchtime, a slowly-growing dread that I was getting sick turned into cannot-work-at-all-my-head-is-full-of porridge and I went home early, got straight into bed, and didn’t move again for nearly 24 hours.

I did make vague plans to go riding with Amy today, but my craziest biker-friend was doing this all morning, so I very nearly just gave up on today. But to be honest, I really wanted and needed to go for a ride, so eventually I pulled myself together and dressed myself to hit the road with Gary… at 3pm, but still, I did it!

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It was such a nice autumn day. Sometimes it felt like Europe.

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I thought of special boyfriend James as I went past the giant cat statue…

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Hard to believe this was only 4 months ago…

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So… tonight’s plans: watch 30 Rock and roll out my aching legs on my foam roller. Tomorrow… tomorrow is my chance to do what I didn’t achieve today!