Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

Whales are Cool

Monday, September 7th, 2015

This year both of my parents turn 60 and I had my big 3-0. As I won’t be around for mum or dad’s birthdays, the four of us (plus Eva) headed down south for a weekend away. We stayed at our usual hangout, Bunker Bay resort, for some luxury family time.

There was plenty of wine and lots of cheese and we had a great time. Two highlights – where we were staying is right on Bunker Bay and every morning mum, dad, Eva and I head down to the beach for a swim. I discovered beach running and did laps up and down the beach, often having the entire bay to myself. It was quite incredible – building up a bit of a sweat before jumping in (and then very quickly out) of the cold ocean. It is definitely a great way to wake up in the morning.

Bunker Bay

Bunker Bay

The even bigger highlight was whale spotting. Whales are migrating at the moment and head south for summer. We walked around to the whale lookout near Cape Leeuwin lighthouse and were welcomed by numerous spurts of water in the distance.

whale

That white dot is a whale. I kid you not.

I never see whales so I was a little bit excited and could have stayed watching out for them all day. We drove around to Meelup beach and sat in a carpark waiting to see if we could spot any others. There were a few further out but as we started the car to leave, a whale about 100 metres off shore decided to come up to the surface and started dancing for us. It rolled around, showed us its fins and tail and then made loud honking noises as it released wind from its blow hole. It was just incredible – nature at its most special, reminding us how the world continues on and is so much bigger and better than just us silly little humans.

Meet Steve

Monday, September 7th, 2015

A month or so ago, I asked my friend Steve what I should write a blog post about and he gave the usual response that most people give – “Write about me.” I gave him the terms and conditions that I would deliver a true and honest report of him and that it would require a photograph. He agreed. And so here it is.

Steve

Hello Steve.

Meet Steve. I call him Sustainability Steve and now so do at least seven people at the Subiaco council. I’m not quite sure how no one else had noticed that glaringly obvious nickname before seeing as his name is Steve and he works in sustainability. Clearly I am more naturally creative than I think.

Steve is Scottish, which we can’t hold against him but it does mean he has a particularly difficult accent. He also mumbles a lot so I spend a lot of time asking him to repeat himself. If we’re in a noisy room at the time, I will often give up on the third repeat attempt and simply smile and nod and hope I will work out what he’s talking about later on in the conversation.

I have been friends with Steve for just over two months and during that short period of time I have managed to learn a lot about him. He has a similar wandering spirit that I can relate to and he dreams of living up a mountain one day (which I can’t relate to.) We started a trend of drinking cabernet merlot next to a fire at The Queens pub but now we won’t do that anymore because it’s too far for me to come and he refuses to live in Manchester.

Steve likes to pretend he is tough but actually he’s not. He is what I like to call a ‘grumpy arse’ and he almost always has a frown on his face. He complains a lot, particularly when he has the sniffles, and is just generally disgruntled with life and the unsustainable living habits of all human beings. Don’t we know that the world is going to end as we know it in 2030? Then what? THEN WHAT?

The only thing that makes Steve smile is the motorbike that he recently purchased. He also likes motorbike jackets and talking about his motorbike. He also talks a lot about sailing and I don’t understand what he’s going on about. The same applies for his current weightlifting obsession and his personal trainer, Johnny. Every day I hear about Johnny but I don’t think Johnny hears about me.

One day Steve is going to live in Canada, buy a van, grow his hair and own a dog and he will spend his time living on mountains, skiing and lighting fires. He went to military school so he could easily fend off bears and Canadians.

Steve has promised that we will meet again within the next twelve months and if we don’t he owes me $20. That will come in handy for this poor, starving student.

The Marathon

Monday, September 7th, 2015

I ran a marathon last Sunday. That was fun. I actually managed to get some sleep the night before which is quite unusual for me. Usually the excitement and fear keep me awake all night and I lie there thinking, “Is it time to run yet? No.”

It was a 6am start time down on St George’s Terrace and as per usual it was a wind tunnel. Thankfully this was the windiest part of the entire race and despite a fairly nasty weather forecast, it ended up being a remarkably sunny day.

Please forgive me, I am about to brag. I set off on this marathon expecting to complete it in a similar time to what I ran in Manchester. There were going to be hills so I didn’t think I’d be able to improve on my 4 and a half-ish hours. Half way through the race it dawned on me that I was going slightly faster than I expected, and I was still feeling good. I crossed the finish line in 4 hours and 2 minutes – cutting 24 minutes off my Manchester time. I WAS SO HAPPY. I admit to crying just a little bit as I crossed the finish line but that was potentially due to the burning pain that was going through my thigh muscles. Hills are nasty. I greatly dislike them.

city to surf

Hooray! Another medal!

The race was four days ago and I am still feeling it a bit in my legs and I’m reasonably certain that my foot is broken. Sitting in this plane chair is not helping at all. I’d prefer to be running.

Thanks to some smart thinking on my part, I asked Sir Pubert if he wanted to set another dinner bet for this last marathon. He agreed and I beat the decided time of ‘less than 4 hours 26.’ I am currently about 20 hours away from claiming my prize.

Stories From the Sky

Monday, September 7th, 2015

The last few weeks have been somewhat manic – my decision to run a marathon, turn 30 and move to the other side of the world turned out to be quite the challenge. I don’t regret it but next time I might reconsider doing so many physically and mentally strenuous things all at the same time.

I am currently writing to you while flying somewhere over the Indian Ocean. If the plane goes down now I’ll try and float towards Jakarta. That seems to be the closest land mass. I have already watched two films – Aloha and Frozen. You’ll be pleased to hear that both ended happily and resulted in me tearing up a bit in the lovey-dovey moments. It’s my old age.

I had the beef for dinner. We apparently get another ‘light dinner’ later. I’m likely to get yet another one on my next flight from Abu Dhabi to Manchester. Great. Three dinners. Normally I’d love this concept but when it comes in a foil container and you’re not entirely sure what you’re eating, it is slightly less exciting.

I figured I’d take the opportunity of me not doing anything to catch up on some blog posts so that people may or may not read them later when I have a chance to upload them. So here we go. Let’s catch up, friends!

I’m still here

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

I have realised that my blogging frequency has dropped significantly in the last few months. My apologies if this has affected anyone, although I suspect it hasn’t caused any great distress. I thought I would provide a brief overview of why I have become slack on the writing front.

Work.

I am up to Job #7 at the Subiaco Council and Job #6 required significantly more concentration and effort than jobs 1 through 5. I really enjoyed Job #6. But now I’m moving on. It is amazing how attached to a company you can become – I will now passionately defend the Subiaco town centre and argue against any negative comments that are made about it and its parklets. THERE IS PLENTY OF PARKING. Now stop complaining.

I have made lots of great friends at work which has been a massive bonus, and for some reason people seem to think that I know stuff about writing and whatnot. Strange but lovely. I’m going to miss these folk. Once again, I find myself in the position of having gained the friendship of such fantastic people and having to say goodbye. At least most of them say they’ll come and visit me, but I don’t think any have actually googled Manchester and looked at the weather forecast.

Visas.

My flight to Manchester leaves in 35 days. I am still uncertain as to whether or not I will be on it. Having finally received an application number from the University of Manchester, I was able to start my online application for my student visa. What I had expected to be a fairly straight forward process turned out to be a ridiculously complicated application. Why I thought it would be easy, I’m not sure as visa applications never, ever are.

There are always two or three questions that make absolutely no sense, have no explanation or require you to search through a 100-page document that is briefly mentioned in another form in order to find some sort of answer for it. If someone asked you “Do you have an existing presence in the UK?” what would you answer? Exactly. Thanks to an exceptionally helpful person in the visa office at the university, I think I have managed to complete the application correctly.

However I then needed to attend an ‘interview’ at a dodgy office on St George’s Terrace where I sat in a room full of swivel chairs waiting to hand over precious documents such as my passport. Every time I have been in this situation, I have left feeling like I won’t get the visa and that I have committed some sort of fatal error. People who work in visa application centres must have hours of training in the art of making people doubt themselves. Have I supplied all of the correct documents? Have I forgotten something? Is that an original or a photocopy? Is that really how I spell my name? Nothing is certain.

And so we wait.

Life.

The rest of my time has been filled with meeting up with friends, celebrating my Grandma’s 93rd birthday, spending as much time as possible with my family and giving guide-dog Eva lots of pats.

I’ve also started training for the City to Surf marathon. I thought that completing another marathon before I’m 30 would potentially be a good idea. The more I train for it, the more I question this logic. I ran 30 kilometres last Saturday and by kilometre ten I was ready to go home. However my plan of running a marathon in the morning of 30 August, having birthday drinks with my friends in the afternoon, turning 30 on the 1 September and then flying to Manchester two days later to start Jess’s Socially Irresponsible Adventure #328 is quite pleasing.

And that’s the crux of it.

Puppy Love

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

Last night it dawned on me that Sinead O’Connor is clearly singing about a guide dog that she has been training in her song Last Day of Our Acquaintance. A trainer and a dog who have a final day together before being separated forever. They will meet again when the dog graduates but when the trainer tries to say hello, the dog will be so focused on being a good guide dog that it won’t respond. And we already know this will happen.

Today my family is understanding exactly what Sinead was getting at. Tomorrow Cali is leaving our house and moving on to help a visually impaired woman live her daily life. She has made it through the training, been declared as one of the top 20 dogs EVER (of course, she’s a Davies), and is now going to spend the rest of her life providing an amazing service to someone who needs a bit of help. And while we’re ridiculously proud of her, we all want to cry.

Cali, the smartest dog in the world.

Cali, the smartest dog in the world.

My parents have just spent the last two and half years training Cali, pretending not to be getting attached while really falling in love. My brother has spent almost a year with Cali around while I have gotten to know her in the last three months. When I moved back to Perth I wasn’t all that thrilled that a dog was living in my house and stealing attention from my parents away from me. And now I rush home in order to have pats with Cali. I call her over, rub her tummy, take her for walks every evening, I have given her a soppy nickname and I will do anything she wants when she looks at me with her loveable dog eyes. When I’m sad, she cheers me up faster than chocolate ice cream.

WHAT ON EARTH HAPPENED?! No one in my family quite understands how a four-legged furry creature who really is ‘just a dog’ has managed to have such a resounding impact on all of us. We have all been affected by Cali’s presence and she didn’t even do anything other than lie around on our floor. Perhaps this is what all animals manage to do, or maybe Cali is a wonder dog. Whatever the reason, we’re going to miss her and she will always be my favourite dog. I still hate dogs, but I love Cali.

A clean dog is a good dog

A clean dog is a good dog

On that note, we will learn more tomorrow evening whether or not it is possible to like more than one dog, when Dad has taken Cali to school for the last time and returns home with Eva (aka Cali II). Yes, we’re getting another one, because rebound guide dogs are always the best option.

Cape to Cape Capers

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

Last weekend was a long weekend, celebrating what was once called Foundation Day and has now been politically corrected to WA Day. To make the most of the break, my cousin Kate had rented an apartment down in Yallingup and invited me and my brother, plus four of her friends, to join her. We headed down on Friday after work and by 9pm had arrived at our fancy-pants beach side apartment with ‘squint and you can see the ocean’ views. Good work, Kate.

The weekend involved large amounts of food, numerous bottles of wine and plenty of outdoor time. The weather turned it on for us with remarkably warm temperatures and heaps of sunshine. My Sunday morning involved a walk along the beach and then a swim in the surprisingly warm ocean. Not what you would expect for the day before winter.

Yallingup beach

Yallingup beach

On Saturday morning, Kate, Karina and I went for a run. The other two are in training for a marathon and had planned a 30 kilometre run. I was still sore from last week’s half marathon and really couldn’t be bothered running that far so instead decided I would run 5 kilometres with them and then turn around and go back. While part of me felt lazy and guilty for taking the easy option, as soon as we started running I was so glad I had made this decision.

Kate had planned the route from the apartment in Yallingup along the Cape to Cape walk, around the Cape Leeuwin light house and back down to Eagle Bay. The rest of us would meet the runners (and Tim who was their back up crew on his bike) at the Eagle Bay brewery for an early lunch. As soon as we set off, we discovered that the Cape to Cape trail was definitely ‘off road’ with a lot of soft sand and a large number of hills. The path wound its way along the coast, going up and down the undulating cliffs. It was a very tough run and after my 5 kilometres I was definitely ready to turn around. I don’t know how the others kept going – to their extreme credit they made it the whole way to Eagle Bay in remarkably good time.

Despite the tough terrain, the run was really amazing – we had shrubby bush to one side and rocky cliffs leading down to the Indian Ocean on the other. The weather was perfect without too much wind and the waves were rolling in to the shore, much to the delight of the hundreds of surfers.

View from the Cape to Cape trail. Photo courtesy of Kate Smith

View from the Cape to Cape trail. Photo courtesy of Kate Smith

It has sparked my interest in doing cross country running, something I have avoided since I was at primary school and we had to run around and around the school multiple times. I have friends in England who go for long distance runs along country paths and my Cape to Cape experience may have just enticed me to give it a go when I get back. It is a LOT harder than running on the road and my ankles aren’t all that happy with me, but since when have I ever listened to my joints? Silly weak ankles… Some rocks might just do them good.

Carn the Dockers!

Friday, May 15th, 2015

No trip to Australia would be complete without seeing a game of AFL. I say this as an Australian who had never been to a live AFL match until Sir Pubert came to visit. I managed to get cheap-seat tickets for the two of us and my brother for the Dockers vs Essendon game at Subiaco Oval (or Patterson Stadium or Domain Stadium or whatever you want to call it.)

Up close to the action

Up close to the action

As I had never bought tickets for a game before, I managed to get us seats in the Essendon fans’ section, which wasn’t quite what I planned as it resulted in a fairly boring game for us to watch as the Dockers dominated. Despite this, it was entertaining to listen to the family of Essendon supporters sitting in front of us yell abuse at the players and umpires as their team failed to deliver. The little girl kept reminding her dad that he shouldn’t swear and then turn back to the action to yell at the players.

Our position right behind the goal meant we were amongst the action as the ball was kicked through. There was one goal from Essendon that resulted in the ball hurtling straight towards us and Sir Pubert touching the man who touched the ball. Impressive.

The Dockers won easily and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the captain, Matthew Pavlich, up close and slicked up with baby oil. Those footballers sure do have arm muscles…

Escape from Penguin Island

Friday, May 15th, 2015

On Sir Pubert’s last day in sunny Perth, I took him to one of WA’s most prized tourist destinations – Penguin Island. As the name would suggest, Penguin Island is a small rocky island that is home to around 1000 penguins. We were staying in my aunt’s beachside apartment down the road in Shoalwater and headed over to PI around lunch time. While it is possible to walk across a sandbar stretching from the mainland to the island, the extensive “DO NOT WALK ACROSS THE SANDBAR” signage and the fact that we were carrying delicious sandwiches for lunch that would run the risk of getting wet, meant we decided to catch the ferry.

Heading off to Penguin Island

Heading off to Penguin Island

As soon as we stepped off the ferry and onto the poop-covered jetty, hundreds of pissed-off seagulls rose from their shrubby nests and hovered menacingly above our heads. Within the first 30 seconds, Sir Pubert had been pooped on and I was laughing at him.

It didn’t take us long to realise that we weren’t going to see any penguins that day but we were going to spend a lot of time trying to stay away from sharp-beaked seagulls. It would appear that it was mating/nesting season for the thousands of screechy birds who had built nests and laid eggs alongside the designated tourist walk paths. This meant that every step we took was one closer to another protective mother. It did make for some light entertainment watching nervous tourists trying to escape from attacking seagulls.

Nice island, grumpy birds.

Nice island, grumpy birds.

Apart from the grumpy gulls, our visit to Penguin Island was great. Despite being located so close to the industrial zones of Kwinana and Rockingham, the rocky coastline is surprisingly pretty and we managed to find a quiet spot to sit and each our lunch. We were also welcomed by a sleepy seal who had found a sunny spot on one of the island’s beaches. He flopped around on the sand and provided some excellent photo opportunities for the island’s visitors and reminded me a lot of Sir Pubert in his somnolent states.

Show off.

Show off.

No Longer a Loser Learner

Monday, April 20th, 2015

It seemed like such an achievable goal – upgrade my automatic driving license to a manual. My 17-year-old self made the fatal mistake of giving up on the clutch way back in 2003 and I have only been able to drive automatic cars since. My time in Europe and the UK has demonstrated that this was a silly, silly thing to do as most cars in the northern hemisphere have that whole moving stick thing and additional pedal. I was back in Perth for six months – I would quickly learn to drive a manual car and upgrade my license.

Yeah. Easy. Not. Learning to drive wasn’t the hard part and once I had worked out what to do with my feet and had thrown one or two hissy fits, I was relatively confident. Surely I would pass the practical test with ease.

Apparently I was wrong. As I sat in the car park of the City West Transport office at 7.30 this morning, my stomach churning and a feeling of doom descending upon me, my Dad turned to me and joked, “Well at least this will make a good blog post.” I didn’t laugh. This was the second time in two weeks that I was attempting to pass my practical test. Two weeks ago my Dad and I drove out to Mirrabooka and after 35 minutes of driving around the suburban streets, I was informed I had failed.

Failed? But I have been driving for 12 years. I have never had a car accident. I can reverse parallel park. I understand the concept of ‘merging’ and I stick to my lane in a two-lane roundabout. And yet I had failed my test without stalling, without crashing, without killing an innocent pedestrian.

According to the driving test man, who has since gained nicknames that I can’t write because my mother reads this, I was coasting and therefore he was obliged to fail me. I also apparently took too long to find somewhere to turn around in the ‘Oh no, I have forgotten my wallet’ turn-around-and-go-back-to-where-we-started task. This was purely because he didn’t like the drive way that I had chosen to use as it was apparently too close to the crest of a hill. I also have thoughts on this but again, too many rude words are involved.

After much discussion with fellow driving test failures (aka the entire driving population of Western Australia) this guy was failing me just because he could. I may as well have not driven anywhere and had him give me a list of ridiculous reasons as to why I can’t drive. It resulted in me having nightmares last night about failing once again because I didn’t take my foot off the clutch early enough when turning corners.

But today was a good day. I was with a friendly man named Paul (yes, Paul) who was from the UK (yep) who seemed keen to pass me from the start. This time I drove around for 35 minutes feeling like I couldn’t do anything wrong. He suggested easy places for me to turn around, encouraged me to nudge my way in to a busy row of traffic and said “Just go through” when a traffic light turned orange as I approached. At the end of my test he said I had passed with 100 per cent which is a significantly different result to two weeks ago. Either my left foot had gained epic skillz over that short time period or there’s something just not quite right about the system – who am I to say? All I know is that I passed and I no longer have to drive around with bright yellow ‘L’ plates attached to my car and my dad sitting in the seat next to me.