2004-06 (JUNE, 2004)

Canoe Launching - Sydney, Australia

Dave came down to Sydney this weekend to assist at the maiden voyage of my 'Wee Lassie' canoe, the very first boat that I've ever built. The launch day was set for Sunday, but Saturday held one important pre-launch job - that of figuring out how to transport an 11' 6" wooden boat without turning it into a pile of matchwood on the first corner down the road. This job required beer. Lots of beer. So we went to The Welcome with paper and pens and a thirst. Sweet.

Sunday dawned with very little in the way of pain, mostly thanks to the absence of Mr Sambucha the evening before. We breakfasted at Kazbah and then set about planning where the sea trials should take place. I was not confident of simply strapping 9 months worth of work to the roof of Dave's car, so we carried it to the beach at the bottom of our road instead. I should mention at this point that I had not yet got around to making or buying a paddle, so I was armed with nothing more than a pair of ping-pong bats instead - and, yes, this did detract a little from the dignity of the maiden voyage, but, as the saying goes, I am "like a teacher on holiday - no class". We slipped the Lass into the water and she did not immediately fill with water nor did all the glue instantly dissolve - both good signs. I slipped my less-than-svelte frame into position and the hand-caned seat did not splinter - so far so good. And so, with the lightest of shoves, I glided out into Sydney harbour - low in the water, but afloat. Dave captured the moment in an emotional and movingly narrated video clip that I hope to bring to this web site in the near future. In the meantime here is the only photo in which you can't see how fat I am, nor how low in the water my little canoe was floating 📷. I paddled around for a while and then brought her back into shore - the sea trials were a resounding success! On the strength of this momentous occasion we elected to go and buy a proper paddle without delay. We thus drove over to the Kayak Shop at Spit Bridge and I purchased a shiny, new, adjustable paddle. We continued on to Manly to spend the rest of the afternoon doing the Manly to Spit Bridge Walk.

Dave stayed Sunday night as well and together we created twice the Boy Fug than I had been able to create by myself (Andy was away in China for two weeks for work so Boy Fug was the order of the day). A splendid weekend capped of with DVDs and takeaway food. Burp!

A Long Weekend - Wellington, New Zealand

At some point in the not-too-distant future Andy and I hope to move to Wellington in New Zealand. We have been toying with this idea for a while now and no doubt will be toying with it for a while yet. The only aspect of this plan that I had found slightly worrying to date was that Andy had never been to Wellington - thus we were toying with moving somewhere that Andy might really hate. This would be bad. So I jacked us up a long weekend visit to New Zealand's windiest city.

We flew in on Friday night and arrived just after midnight local time. Andy had only flown back in from China that morning and so was pretty knackered and sick of aeroplanes. She was also quite ill thanks to two weeks of Chinese food (which they just call "food" in China, by the way) - not a great start to a long weekend away.

We arose on Saturday to be greeted by glorious weather - blue skies and not a breath of wind. We had missed breakfast in our hotel so headed down to Cuba Street to find a café and something to eat. The first place we walked into was full, but we did bump into Amber and Linda, some friend's from when I lived in Wellington ten years prior - a great start as far as I was concerned! We chatted for a while before continuing on our way to find some food and a cup of the coffee that Wellington is famous for. We were not disappointed! Fortified and caffinated we elected to do a city walk around the south of the city. We began with a stroll along Oriental Parade before turning inland and uphill. We were treated to spectacular views of the city and harbour. Unfortunately for Andy the walk was too much for her weakened state so we returned to the hotel for some R&R. Out again we wandered the streets soaking up the atmosphere before selecting the Istanbul Café as our dinner venue. The food was excellent. Home to bed tired, happy and full (Andy was empty again fairly soon after getting home, however).

Sunday dawned a little less clear and a little more windy than the day before. Again we ventured out for breakfast (this time to the place that had been too full the day before) before covering the northern parts of the city centre on foot. We took the cable car up to Karori and descended through the loveliest Botanic Gardens I had ever had the pleasure of visiting. Again we returned to the hotel for a rest before meeting up with a friend of Andy's with whom she had worked in Sydney and who now lives in Wellington. Jane took us out to a favourite café on Oriental Parade and we chatted for a good few hours about what it was like to live in Wellington. At 18:00 I rang my friend Andrew to see if he and Linda were available for the evening, but unfortunately he was too knackered after an all night filming mission (Andrew does film crew stuff) so we arranged to meet the next day instead. Jane dropped us on Courtney Place and we made our way to Hummingbird for dinner. The meal was not as good as the previous night, however.

Monday dawned wet and windy (we certainly experienced the full gamut of Wellington weather this weekend!). After breakfast and a few errands we met up with Andrew and he drove us around some of the inner city suburbs, as well as the coastline south of the city centre, so that we could get a feel for the places we might want to move to. I fell in love with the coastline (bleak and beautiful like the west coast of Ireland) and Andy fell in love with the hills (less exposed to the elements and closer to cafés and cinemas and civilisation) - we'll have some compromising to do there I reckon. We completed our tour in a café in the suburb of Miramar, home to Weta Studios (where the Lord of the Rings movies were put together). Andrew dropped us back to our hotel to freshen up and then he and Linda collected us again and took us out to dinner at Chow. Scrumelicious! Home to bed and up again well before dawn to catch our flight back to Sydders. A great weekend in a place we may one day call home!