Wednesday, 30 April 2008

The Shoes...

The shoes from Melbourne...

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Melbourne - Fri and Sat

Not quite sure if I'm in blog writing mode particularly to cover a whole weekend... I really think that the best way of doing this sort of thing is to write it as you go along! But I should at least try to get a few thoughts down.

Firstly I should say that I had a fantastic weekend even if my shopping mojo wasn't quite with me on Sun afternoon (such a waste but these things happen!) I arrived on Fri evening and flew through customs and my case was one of the first to come out which was great. I had odd experience with the whole seat thing for the flight though. When I was checking in I asked for an aisle seat but got told that there was only one left and it was in the back row. She didn't outright say that I shouldn't take it but indication was that it wouldn't be great seat. So I said, well ok a window seat would be fine. When I got to my seat which row was I in? Yup, the last row?!!! Main drawback of the last row is that the seats don't recline at all which in a 4 hr flight is a bit of a drag. Luckily I got my aisle (non back row) for return flight.

On arrival I got bus in to centre of Melbourne where I met up with Sonya. We used the city's fantastic tram system to get a tram to, eh, Sonya?, to get some dinner at one of the city's thousands of restaurants! I had aubergine schnitzel which was certainly something I hadn't had before though it seemed very similar to eggplant parmesan. Tasty but I couldn't finish it all and my one glass of wine.. i really felt it! I don't know if it was just because my body felt it was 2 hours later than it really was in Melbourne (2 hr time difference between Melbourne and Wellington - 2500 km distance too!) and/or the fact that I'd drunk hardly any water that day. But all in all rather tasty nonetheless :)

On Sat after a good sleep (I managed to doze until 8:15am Melbourne time!) we ate some brekkie and then headed in to Federation Square via train getting off at Flinders St Station. As I had responded to most of Sonya's suggestions/comments of the previous hour with a response of "sounds great... after coffee!" the first thing we did was, yup, you got it, get some coffee!
DSCF0893.JPG


There was quite a bit of relaxed strolling around which I thoroughly enjoyed. I guess our plan was to stay relatively central in morning and afternoon before walking back to Sonya's (Cremorne) along the Yarra in afternoon and then head out to St Kilda for dinner that evening. As is the best way with these chilled days what happened was that we did a bit of browsing along with a quick visit in to Zu a shoe shop fave of Sonya's (not shopping day so just quick visit) and me putting aside pair of shoes for collection later and we then headed out to St Kilda for lunch. We ate in this fab veggie restaurant Soul Mama. The have this HUGE buffet style and we went for the medium plate which gives you rice (white, basmati or brown) and then four other portions so to speak. 'twas gorgeous as hopefully is indicated in photo here...
DSCF0913.JPG


As the restaurant is all windows I can imagine that on a sunny day it really is a fantastic place to lunch. I mean I was enjoying it as it was but I could see how on a hot sunny day it could be quite breathtaking. As it was I couldn't quite say that I'd like to live in St Kilda... a tad shabby!

I really was rather full at the end of that but needless to say, as we were in the area it was sort of necessary to visit Acland St which apparently is famous for its cake shops... we did actually go in to one but I think the cakes looked better than they tasted.. at least mine did which is fine as I was so full anyway!
DSCF0917.JPG


Back to Little Collins St to collect my *gorgeous* new shoes and then a quick demonstration by Sonya to indicate how out of the way some of Melbourne's bars are. This bar, the Croft Institute is something you'd never find if you hadn't been there before... trust me you walk down one alleyway, take a left in to another which then turns right and it's down at the very end. All this on uneven ground in the dark with big garbage bins for company. Great stuff!
DSCF0937.JPG


Unfortunately just as we were heading back to walk along the Yarra the rain, which had been forecasted, started. Wasn't just a few drops but horrible wet rain and it was a bit chilly. So we decided to get the tram back. Dinner was a quiet evening down at the local which was lovely and chilled. Not the busiest place ever but not empty or dead and my salad wasn't too bad at all. The Pinot Noir was pretty horrible (I didn't order that) and had to be sent back but the Shiraz (is that what you had Sonya?) and my Savvie were both grand!
DSCF0943.JPG


So at the end of that we headed back to the apartment and were in bed by 11:30 (which I felt wasn't bad for me as was definitely feeling a bit spacey!) :) All in all it was a really enjoyable day where I felt we saw lots but never felt rushed.

Sunday to follow...


Thursday, 24 April 2008

Always Take the Weather With You

In advance of my visit to Melbourne tomorrow my soon to be host, that's Sonya, has sent on weather forecast with of course my arrival/departure points... Note that my name is specified as Sonya felt the need to sent this on to a mutual friend (hi Veronica!) of ours back in Dublin... just to let her know what great weather I'd be experiencing :) Oh fun... as if I didn't get enough rain last weekend""

Thurs: Sunny and currently 25'c (fab day!!!)

Fri: 12 to 21'c … Late shower (Aoife arrives tomorrow evening)
Sat: 10 to 18'c .. Windy with showers
Sun: 8 to 16'c … windy with showers
Mon: 9 to 15'c … clearing showers (Aoife flies out that morning !!)

And then we start getting back to normal.. Up to 18 Tues and up to 22 on Wed !!!

Very quick one...

to highlight my masterpiece from Tues evening. While it was fun, and I am nonetheless amazed that I manged to produce anything I don't intend to give up my day job anytime soon :) Evening was art class (me at art class?!) and my output after 2.5 hrs was this (slightly glarey photo so I'll put better one up next week)...


It's a cityscape before anybody asks!!!

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Bushcraft...

Last weekend was spent up in Holdsworth Lodge in the Tararas on my bushcraft course. We set out from Wellington on Fri evening. There were only 6 of us in the mini bus on the way up (including driver) as the rest of the group was in a different mini bus. I had a relatively quiet journey up but that was fine with me... stopped in Carterton I think it was for some dinner... had a yummy falafel kebab for dinner. Really scrumptious!

It wasn't from there to Holdsworth Lodge and while I knew that there wasn't going to be serious amounts of tramping in the weekend I didn't expect us to park literally at the door to the lodge!! Bit of theory and then bed which I was looking forward to. What i quickly learned was that quite a few people fall asleep very quickly. And how did I know this? Well mainly because I could hear them. Quite a few snorers in the lodge that night :)

Sat morning we started with some navigation theory, reading maps, using compass etc. I've covered this sort of stuff before in Ireland so nothing too new here... but good to act as a refresher.
NavTheory1.JPG
Before long, by 10am sort of time I mean, we could hear the rain outside. There seemed to be quite alot of it. And it gradually got colder and colder. By midday I had on all my layers bar my hut clothes for the evening... and we hadn't even left the hut yet. A bunch of us were walking around wearing our hats!

Anyway, we left the hut about 12:30 or maybe 1pm... I'd no watch on so really didn't know the time! It was bucketing rain out there but I was so cold I was just glad to be moving. Once we got to Donnelly Flats we put up some flies, tent etc. Well we were shown how to put them up and sort of helped but my fingers weren't working because of the cold and I had no idea how to tie those knots anyway... so I just hammered some pegs in to the ground. This is what we were originally going to be sleeping in on Sat night...
SleepingFly.JPG

Now, this picture might give you idea of how wet it was...

MeInRain.JPG

The plan was then changed so that those who wanted to sleep in it could but if you wanted to you could go back to the hut. No hard thinking for me then! But we were still planning to spend the afternoon up on the Flats and cook dinner in the flies before heading back to the lodge. It was 2pm. And bloody freezing. I went for short stroll with Danielle and when we came back I was ready to put on my one hut clothes to stay warm (they're the stripey polyprops) I was so cold. But we got the great news that we were going to go for short walk and then head back to the hut. To be honest I'd have been happy to go for decent walk and then head back but I didn't really mind so long as I wasn't standing still! Back at hut it was pre dinner snacks, dinner, some cards (well it wasn't a card game but anyway) and bed... 3 people slept in the flies.
Dinner.JPG
BonAppetit.JPG

Lodge was quieter that night :)

It was actually a very very cold night but Sunday at least wasn't raining. So after a tasty breakfast of muesli and water we dressed up warmly and headed out...
FunkyStripes2.JPG
So we headed off to Donnelly Flats to learn about when you do and don't attempt to cross a river and if you're going to do crossing how to do it. This is us practising feeling obstacles on the ground and still working as a unit but with eyes closed.
DSCF0803.JPG
After that we moved on to the real thing...
DSCF0807.JPG
DSCF0813.JPG
And it would appear that I enjoyed myself.

And that was kind of it. After all that I got a lift back to Wellington with Peter and Danielle and we stopped in Greytown for a much needed coffee and cake...
PostWeekendMunchies.JPG

ps I apologise but I haven't proof read this as I really just want to crash now but I know if I don't post this now I never will!! :)

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Muesli and water...

I'm definitely feeling a little nervous in advance of the weekend now. The weather has definitely got colder and wetter now and I'm in that scenario of not wanting to bring too much but also definitely not wanting to bring too little. I'd happily be skanky and not bring other stuff for evenings but to be honest there is a decent risk that I'll just be v wet by Sat evening. Of course the fact that we're sleeping in open, well under a fly, but definitely not in a hut does mean that even if I put on dry clothes I could just get wet again!
I'm looking forward to it and I have bought my group food and I have what appears to be rather a large of amount of snacks for myself but last thing I want is to find myself short of food! The one meal that I really don't like when tramping (the one other time I've done it of course!) is breakfast... muesli with water for me. Oh, and a banana for the Sat morning. Ironically I still have all my food in the fridge and I won't pack it until the morning even though it won't see a fridge again so I'm not sure if it's really necessary to wait until morning. And then there's the logistics of changing/not changing going straight from work. I *think*/hope that as we finish up where we start out (Holdsworth carpark) then I should be able to leave clothes on the bus... I certainly don't want to be carting them around. So maybe wear jeans to work and on minibus and then change at carpark and leave them on bus? Or not. Who knows? :)
Just so you know I did take some photos last night after sorting what I was bringing and placing on the couch... I just can't upload right now as camera is halfway down backpack... next week!!

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

pizza, bubbles, and painting...

Well it appears that I'll be eating the first, drinking the second and attempting the third next Tues evening! Eh, I suspect I'll be fab at the first, not bad at the second and disastrous at the last :)

So next week now looks like:
Mon: unpack, wash, recover from weekend. Oh, squash too.
Tues: bring out my artistic streak while stuffing my face.
Weds: free. tramping club probably.
Thurs: bowling
Fri: Melbourne :)

Pity about the work part!

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

The trials and tribulations of Jeans shopping!

Decided that the jeans that i bought on Sat are too small... or at least they don't fall in to the "comfy jeans" category. I appreciate what the sales assistants mean when they say that you should buy jeans a bit tight 'cos the denim does stretch. But... I want comfy jeans and the ones I got just aren't comfy jeans. I tried on a pair which were the same as the ones I bought on Sat but which are one size up. The sales assistant weren't impressed. I agreed to try different style (wide leg) which ended up being the ones I exchanged for. It was quite amusing because the first pair in the wide leg style that I tried on was a hard denim but I thought they looked okay. Both girls just looked at me and asked if I could get my hand between me and waist band and when I said I could two pairs of eyes shot up to heaven. One of them nipped off and came back with a pair in the same style, one size smaller but in softer denim. They felt fine to me and the two girlies were happy that I now had a pair of jeans that fitted me and that I was comfortable in. So, all good :)

Monday, 14 April 2008

Sunday sun

This Sunday was a really lovely sunny day so headed out to Belmont Park for a couple of hours walk. Think the route we took is the Korokoro Stream Track though we walked as far as dam and then returned. Nothing too strenuous as mountain biking trail and no climbing. I wore my boots as I'll wearing them all this weekend and they haven't been worn since my one and only tramp in the Tararuas last November. Going from flat light summer shoes to walking boots? Hard... thick socks and they weigh a bit more needless to say! But guess I'll survive next weekend!

Lovely and sunny out with the sun jumping off the water. The stream was beside the route for the walk... it was gorgeous and just loads of trees and bush around. Much greener than I expected.

DSCF0738.JPG

The dam wasn't overly exciting but it was so quiet and peaceful up there that it was really very relaxing. There were a number of fantails flying about and even though I really tried to get picture of them in action they're such fast little flyers that I quickly realised that I was never going to be able to get a picture of them... so just stood back and watched them zoom about the place playing!

Belmont - Reservoir.JPG

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Half way there!

How exciting is this? I've been reading Sacred Games since February and just recently I've made it past the half way mark! To be fair to myself I did read a number of books when I home in Ireland in March (I didn't bring this one as too heavy) but nonetheless I'm not exactly making rapid progress through this book. The odd thing is that I'm really enjoying it but it's a decent chunk of pages with smallish text...

DSCF0749.JPG

So the above pictures shows thickness and the following should give some indication of print size (not that I feel I need to make excuses for the rate that I'm getting through this book or anything!) Oddly, text doesn't look that small in this photo does it? Oh well...

DSCF0751.JPG

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Saturday...

This is my third Sat back in Wellington since my return from Ireland and it's such a relief for it not to be raining! It's not that it's been raining consistently since I got back, not at all. But it has rained for the last two Saturdays so it's quite pleasant to have experienced a bright, sunny and relatively warm day :)

It's been a very lazy day that after a few work drinks last night as we have quite a few new folk on the team now. There's over 40 of us on-site these days which is pretty impressive considering we're on a customer site all doing work for that customer project! After drinks we just had a quiet meal in an Asian restaurant with very noisy crowd at the table beside us. A large meal wasn't required as fish and chips had appeared during team update meeting earlier in the afternoon (I'd passed on the fish but did eat a few chips and have some crackers and cheese), and then spent rest of evening relaxing to some lovely music before I kind of just fell asleep!

I did have plans of maybe doing my tax return today but instead had leisurely brunch in interesting cafe... instead of getting number to put on your table after you've ordered, a large plastic lizard was handed over! Odd... A few purchases were made - I needed new "comfy" jeans that I can wear with flat shoes as my other pair of comfy jeans got left behind in Ireland due to them getting slightly worn out (i.e. a hold developed in the ass of them!). The ironic thing is that the jeans that I bought aren't even one of the three pairs that I brought in to the changing room myself! While showing me to the changing room the sales assistant said he'd grab another pair that he thought might work. When I was paying I was just commenting on the irony of me buying pair that I didn't pick out myself and a shading of denim that I probably wouldn't have picked up either. He asked if I was okay with the colour and I said I really liked them on actually. His response was that his girlfriend is a red head too (that is second time this week that I've been referred to as a red head!) and same build so he reckoned he knew what he was doing! Though apparently he's useless at rock, paper, scissors... interesting the things you learn on a Saturday afternoon :) And I got some rather nice boots. And eh, oh just a ground sheet for bushcraft course next weekend. Nothing too exciting. Leisurely stroll home in the sun stopping for a yummy passionfruit ice cream from my fave ice cream shop in Wellington.

After that hectic day I'm totally shattered! Been a busy week and I'm a sleepy girl so early night tonight I think.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

BCNZ

I went along (finally!) to a Wellington BC meetup this evening. Very different to the Irish setup. For a start these guys are organised (sorry Dublin) and instead of having discussions on which date to meet up they go with the BC standard - second Tues of every month. I didn't even know that this concept existed until I got here! They meet at 5:30 so no hanging around town until 8pm as was the case for me in Dublin (in fairness nobody's fault that I lived in Wicklow, worked in town and so didn't have time or inclination to head back to Bray after work and then back in to town for 8pm). Actually a slightly later start wouldn't bother me here as I live in town :) But I can do 5:30 too. Unlike the Dublin meetings we eat dinner, have a glass of wine, have a few chats and then head home. I was home before 8pm this evening! Oh... and we have name badges with real name and screen name on them which definitely helps! I believe that alot of this organisation is down to Sherlockfan - thanks Sherlockfan!

Obviously as I'm not exactly zooming through books here, am only in to 382 out of 947 of my current read (Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra) and have about 9 books in my TBR list I obviously was not allowed take any books off table this evening. Em... I think that Sherlockfan, no matter how she denies, has secretly worked in sales in the past. I left with The Restraint of Beasts... we'll see how it goes :)

Now... back to House!

Oh, just one disclaimer... I know that I haven't been to Dublin BC meet up in yonks so I apologise (duck/hide) in advance if I've insulted any Irish BCers by indicating certain lack of organization on part of those meetings :)

IBS rant and bits of info

Last Thurs and Fri night I had two very bad nights. Bad for sleeping in that I didn't do much of it. In fact, one would think that after a bad Thurs night my Fri would have been great but it was worse. Actually I wasn't overly surprised as in the past when I've had bad nights they'll come in twos or threes (they're the really shitty ones) and then you get a good night and if it's a cycle you can hit a two or three again. Anyway, for me, these bad nights often trigger IBS symptoms which, when I'm suffering from it, I refer to as my "stomach is sore" even though it's not actually my stomach at all. I'm one of those people, who if going through an IBS flare up, my symptoms get worse as the day goes on as I have to eat but then that puts intestines in to motion which causes pain. Of course I could try not to eat but hey, if I eat irregularly even then that can cause flare up too so bit of a vicious circle.

So Sat afternoon I did a bit of googling. I've suffered from this for years but have had no investigation done in to it (having read what that might involve I ain't volunteering either) but as a result have no way to medicate this other than to just grin and bear it for the 3-5 days that it will go on for. I found that there are about 30 million sufferers in the US alone! And compared to some of them I'm such a mild case I nearly feel bad even writing this. In fact, not sure why I am writing it but I guess I've just read some things that I've discovered.

From "IBS Explained for People who do not have IBS"

IBS exhibits a predominance in women, representing over 70% of IBS sufferers.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is the catch-all diagnosis that is given to people who are experiencing symptoms, usually chronic, with their gastro-intestinal system that are not being caused by a known GI condition or disease.
Oh yeah, it's such a catch-all diagnosis. You get diagnosed and left to it. Only GP I've ever dealt with who tried to give me some specific medication was my GP in Scotland who explained it to me and gave me some anti-spasmodics. Didn't really work though...

I’m not using ibs as an excuse not to do things. Making plans to go out can be really scary when the symptoms (and the rules) can change at anytime. Please respect that there are times when I can’t go out, even if I want to. I don't think my friends ever think I'm using this as an excuse but I still hate having to cancel or postpone events because of this. I've felt so bad cancelling going out in the past because it's hard to explain to people, especially casual acquaintances, that you can't go out because well, your gut hurts. A lot. Sounds, so, well, like an excuse!

IBS is not ‘all in our heads’. It’s true that stress can compound the symptoms. But the "all in my head" routine makes us feel like we’re being called crazy. Believe us, we’re not crazy, we’re just not feeling well. Years ago somebody did make some comment along those lines to me. I guess that wasn't at one of the times where I couldn't sit or stand up straight because of the pain.

I also found a short snippet indicating that that some medical research had shown a link between bad sleep and an IBS flare up. All I could say to that was "tell me something I don't know!!!" I mean that was it. Nothing else to it. Not much bloody good as anybody who has experienced this would know it.

So, why am I putting this on my blog? Not really sure. Just something I feel like doing. When I say I my stomach is sore (note that bizarrely, when I am experiencing this pain in my abdomen, lying down helps alot!) I'm not trying to get out of prior plans; anybody who knows me should know that I'd just say I didn't want to do something if that was the case :)

Anyway, this isn't meant to some "woe is me" post; just some bits of info...

Sunday, 6 April 2008

winter and stuff

First 5 day week in the office in a number of months last week. It felt long. And now I've another about to start tomorrow. I guess I'd kinda gotten used to 3 or 4 day weeks.. this 5 day week lark seems a bit tough if you ask me... oh, you didn't ask? Fair enough.

Nothing thrilling to report. Feeling so so - that's what the end of summer and a 5 day working week does to a girl! Our clocks changed this at 3am this morning so that it was dark by 6:30 this evening :( But, I did get extra hours sleep which was greatly needed and appreciated :)

So, to fight the glumness of the approach of winter I'm looking forward to:

*) bushcraft course weekend of 18th April.

*) weekend in Melbourne visiting Sonya Anzac weekend.
*) 8 week Practical Psychology evening course starting 5th May (think that this could be really interesting as it's soooo different to what i do at work every day!)

*) One day Rock Climbing for Women course on 24th May - using indoor climbing wall, not actually going to be hitting (no pun intended) real rocks! This one I think I will find v. hard and not sure if I'll actually enjoy but seriously looking forward to it for some reason. I think my disastrous sense of balance and hating any sort of clambering or climbing over rocks when hiking/tramping is what's making to really want to do this course.

*) Potentially joining a squash club.

Speaking of squash, I headed along to an open squash day at my local (about 6 min walk from my home so can't get more local than that!) squash & tennis club this afternoon. It seems like decent club with 4 squash courts and lots of space. There was miniscule turnout so I guess I could have played lots but due to horrific lack of fitness and not wanting to piss my back off too much I contented myself with 25 mins at the end of which there was an interesting aroma emanating from my good self :) I haven't played for a couple of years and then I only played for one season (not competitively!) after break of about 14 years so I'm not what you'd call great! But I did enjoy and I was asking about other players of my level in club (yeah you learn by playing people better than yourself but if they're too much better then game is frustrating for both involved) but it was reckoned that I'd be good enough for lowest level of the intra-club league. Anyway, not 100% decided yet especially as I'd miss 8 consecutive club nights as psychology course on same evening but don't think that should be insurmountable problem!