Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Day 213: Hot Grips

Having warm hands one a cold ride makes a very big difference to the overall experience, I found the cheapo Chinese Hot Hands that I installed (with help from Pete) on the R1 invaluable on the long ride I took early last month. They stopped working shortly after returning from the 5 day ride which was fine, I figure that as I had paid $15 for them, it only cost me $3 per day to keep my hands warm... money well spent.

When I was negotiating the purchase of my slightly more touring oriented bike last week I made sure that they threw in a set and told them I'd like to fit them myself. Tonight, after the kids had gone to bed, I spent quite a long time in the garage fitting the Hot Grips in preparation for my birthday ride down to Melbourne. I wanted to complete the fitting tonight to ensure I still had time to call in reinforcements if I managed to stuff something up, fortunately reinforcements were not required. The grips went on and functioned as they should with minimal fuss... except for the time I spent googling the workshop manual so I could find the battery.

Todays photo is much more advanced switch for my new Hot Grips, compare this to the one on the R1 pictured at Day 184, there's a clear difference between the $15 set and the $150 dollar set.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Day 212: Good Guests Gone

It's so nice to have the house back to normal after a weekend that saw the population of our home swell from 3 to 9. I do like having people come and stay, it's always fun and usually involves lots of good food and wine, this weekend was no exception. Having so many people in the house has really made us appreciate how much easier this kind of event will be in our new house, but Googong still seems so far away.

My title today, aside from the alliteration that I like to use, is also deliberately devoid of punctuation. I love how a strategically placed comma can change the tone of a sentence: Did I mean 'Good, Guests Gone' or 'Good Guests, Gone'? Maybe I meant both.

Todays photo is the empty guest room, I chose this because both nights that we had guests this weekend Henry ended up in our bed. When the guest room isn't occupied and Henry is having a rough night, Belinda will often curl up in there with Henry to settle him. This is a necessity if either of us want to at least have a little sleep, here's hoping that we don't need to resort to using the guest room tonight.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Day 211: Local Landmark 4

Happy Birthday Henry!!

After all the excitement of Henry's birthday party yesterday we took our guests for a drive out to Googong to see the paddock that will soon become our suburb, from there we went on to have lunch at the National Gallery followed by a stop at Parliament House. As we were driving from the Gallery to Parliament House Henry started to drift off to sleep and since he didn't sleep much yesterday, or last night for that matter, the decision was made that I'd drive around in an attempt to let Henry get some much needed rest while everyone else took in the sights of Parliament House.

After a couple of laps of Capital Hill I became bored and concerned that I might get dizzy so I ventured a little further afield. I'd had an idea that I wanted to take a photo of the National Museum of Australia for my Local Landmark series for a while and before I knew it I was driving across to the other side of Burley Griffin with Henry fast asleep in the back.

It's such an interesting building with so many opportunities for cool photos, unfortunately I was a little limited with my ability to leave the car so I took today's photo from the drivers seat with the window down.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Day 210: Happy Birthday Henry!

It's actually Henry's birthday tomorrow, but we had his party today. There were lots of present for Henry and he was really loving opening them up and playing with them all.

Today's photo is an action shot of Henry, after a few failed attempts, successfully launching his air powered rocket that was a gift from Poppy. The orange and green streak you can see below the TV is the little foam rocket shooting toward the ceiling.

Henry also received 3 different lots of Duplo, provided by Uncle Dion, the Freke Grandparents and Belinda and I. He's been loving playing with the Duplo almost as much as Jenna has.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Day 209: Big, Red and Hopefully Comfy

I picked my R1 replacement up at lunch time today and whilst I've never really been a huge fan of Kawasaki motorcycles I have to say this one is growing on me (just as well hey?). It's effortlessly quick and has a big cushiony seat on it that will make it a much more comfortable experience for the longer rides that I've been enjoying of late. The real test will be next week when I ride it to Melbourne.

I've already started thinking about some modifications: first I think I'd like a Power Commander on it to try and tune out the dip in the power curve that's noticeable in the lower rev range, then I'd like to do something to shorten the exhausts... they're enormous. I'm looking forward to starting to play with my new toy.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Day 208: Self Censored

I've adjusted this photo to its current state intentionally. It's a really cute picture of Henry hamming it wearing nothing but my ugg boots and as funny as this photo will be at Henry's 21st Birthday... it's just not suitable for a public blog. It's also the only photo that I took today so I had to use it in some form, I really should have planned my photography better today.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Day 207: Hello Cocky

I had lunch in Manuka with my mate Robert today and on the way back from a delicious Duck Laksa I spotted this guy on one of the low branches in the tree near my car.

Unfortunately I'd left my camera in the car so I had to whip out the trusty iPhone and snap this shot before he flew away. I had to walk up really close so the Cockatoo didn't look like a white speck in the brown of the tree and I think this made him nervous. I guess I'd be a little nervous if some random stranger was rapidly advancing on me holding out their phone in the paparazzi position too. Or maybe he could smell the Duck Laksa on me and thought he was next on the menu...

Still, I got a photo for today and it's not that bad considering how average the camera is on the old iPhone 3Gs.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Day 206: Birthday Plans

I'll be heading to Melbourne on my Birthday with Pete & Andy for my first ever game of Aussie Rules, it'll also be my very first trip to the MCG. Pete emailed me the tickets today so I could print them up for us because almost unlimited printing is one of the perks of working where I do.

Pete and Andy are quite into the Hawks, I first got a taste of this one time on our way back from Philip Island when they took me to the 'Hawks Nest' where I witnessed two grown men getting very excited by a large room full to the ceiling of Brown & Yellow paraphernalia. Obviously we'll be backing the Hawks to win.

I'm really looking forward to the trip, as long as the weather's not horrible we're planning on riding down so I'll get to test out the new bike as a tourer for the first time as well. So I'll be having a birthday of firsts this year:
- First ever game of AFL
- First time ever at the MCG
- First long ride on the ZX14R ever
- First time I've ever turned 37

Should be the best trip ever!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Day 205: Press Hard, Three Copies

I mentioned that my helmet was no longer stinky a couple of days ago and that I celebrated by test riding some bikes at one of the bike shops in Fyshwick.

That bike shop was Canberra Motorcycle Centre and today I dropped in there during my lunch break for a quick chat with Seb, the salesman I'd been talking to. The result of that chat was me trading my R1 in on one of the bikes I test rode on Saturday. It should be ready for me to pick up later this week.

It's not a bike I ever imagined I'd own. It's also not a brand that, for no real reason at all, I've ever been particularly fond of. It's not that I've disliked this manufacturer, more that I've always preferred its competitors. I guess I should get used to the fact that by the end of the week I will own a Kawasaki. What kind of Kawasaki? It's a big, red, '06 model ZX14R. Photos to follow when I pick it up.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Day 204: Brunch in the 'Berra

We headed into the Canberra Centre this morning to do a bit of shopping for Henry's Birthday but our first stop had to be breakfast... at a quarter to 11. We were both starving.

After satisfying our needs for poached eggs, hash browns, sauteed mushrooms, grilled tomato, thick toast and in my case lots of bacon we got started on the shopping. Belinda had a little spending spree in Forever New and I bought a carry bag for my camera and a funky little iPad connector thing that lets me pull photos straight from an SD Card or any camera with a USB cable. We also bought Henry some Duplo/Lego stuff with farm animals, I think he'll like it a lot. All in all it was a successful day out.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Day 203: No Longer Stinky

Back on the 18th of March I discovered that my gloves had gone mouldy inside my helmet, I hadn't been able to wear the helmet since because it smelled really, really bad. After lots of airing out, dousing in baking soda, vacuuming out, more airing out and finally a good spray of Febreeze followed by another week or so of airing out I was able to put my head inside without being assaulted by the intense mustiness that used to be there. I'm quite happy that I can wear this helmet again and I celebrated today by going for a ride out to one of the bike shops in Fyshwick where I proceeded to ride a few other bikes that had caught my eye... more on that later (maybe).

Friday, 20 July 2012

Day 202: How I've Missed You...

Belinda and I used to make a simple pasta dish with slices of fried Chorizo in it. I'm not sure why we stopped cooking this little dish but it kind of fell off the menu for a while. It wasn't until tonight that I realised how much I had missed this wonderful ingredient. I have no idea what goes into making this particular sausage and I'm sure Google could enlighten me, but life's pretty boring without a little mystery. As is usual with most sausages I assume that it's probably better not to know, regardless the humble Chorizo sausage is among my favourite proteins.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Day 201: Noticed Nothing Note Worthy

Not much happened today, I went to work - it was uneventful, I had lunch - it was good but  didn't take a photo of it, I went to the pub and caught up with Pete & Andy - it's always a good catch up but still wasn't photo worthy.

I thought I'd try to find the word nothing in the book I'm reading but that didn't work to so I resorted to the Dictionary. Then I noticed that the two words on either side of 'nothing' pretty much summed up my day when read from bottom to top

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Day 200: The "Arty Farty, Had Nothing Else To Blog" Post MkIV

Not much going on today so I tried to get a little 'Arty' with my photo for the day. I think it turned out alright with the Snapseed frame. So what is it? It's Belinda's twig decorations that sit in a vase up on one of our book shelves. Pretty hey?

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Day 199: Cheapo Chockies

I had to pick a couple of things up this afternoon to go with dinner so I dropped in at Aldi before I picked Henry up. While I was there I spied the blocks of chocolate and thought I'd grab them for after dinner snacks. They weren't Lindt quality by any means but they're not bad at all for the price. I like stopping in at Aldi, they've always got such an interesting mix of stuff. Last time I was there they had workshop engine stands... I considered buying one just so I could put it on the checkout conveyor belt with the few groceries I was buying, unfortunately I'm not planning an engine rebuild any time soon and I don't really have the space to store one at the moment.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Day 198: Mixed Feelings

I've had a few issues with the car that have been pretty disappointing, even more disappointing has been my experience with the dealer in Melbourne that I bought the car from who has been constantly trying to avoid their warranty responsibilities. Here's a tip for anyone looking for a second hand car: Don't, under any circumstances, buy from Wapshott Motors in Melbourne.

The experience has left me considering cutting my losses and selling it, unfortunately I know if I do this it will cost me. The idea of selling it prompted me to take today's photo, when I got it back from the workshop it had been washed and looked great so I took it down to the lake for a quick photo shoot at lunch time. I will add here that the workshop that has been doing my warranty work has been fantastic, I highly recommend Anthony Costello Automotive in Fyshwick. Anthony specialises in BMW & Mercedes Benz service and he's very good at what he does.

It really is a lovely car to drive, I also love how it looks and now that everything seems to be working as it should I'm in two minds as to what I should do. I might have to just drive it for a while and see how I feel in a month... or when the next thing goes wrong with it.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

197: Glasses!

Tonight Henry became quite attached to Belinda's sunglasses, this wouldn't be much of an issue if he wasn't so rough with them. He has some history with these glasses already, they went missing for a while not that long ago and were only recovered when Jenna found them in the bottom or Henry's big bucket of toys. It's no wonder he gets blamed for things vanishing around the house. There have been a number of other things go missing only to be found days, weeks and sometimes months later. Recently the nail clippers disappeared, the showed up in a cardboard box a month or so after we'd replaced them.

This photo was taken by my special guest photographer, Belinda, who borrowed my camera to capture Henry at play with her glasses.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Day 196: Photo Time

Belinda organised a photo shoot with Jenna and Henry today, they were at it for hours. I jumped in on the action as well so I could play with the manual settings on my Nikon. Unlike Belinda, my success was limited. Today's photo is one of the few of mine that were reasonably focused and didn't look grainy or underexposed.

I like trying to work out what Henry's thinking with that funny little look on his face, is it "god no, not another bloody photo.." or "when will this torture be over??" or maybe it's "I think I've just done poopoo in my pants...".

Friday, 13 July 2012

Day 195: Best Buddies

Just because I thought they were cute. They're an odd couple Milly and Rex. Milly seems to take great pleasure in treating her sugar daddy Rex mean in order to keep him keen, and Rex just sits there with a stupid grin on his face... and then licks Milly's face until it's wet.

Tonight they were being reasonably well behaved and looked so comfy snuggled up next to each other that I thought I'd take a photo... not long after Rex snuck off to steal the cat's food. I did say reasonably well behaved.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Day 194: Sniped

I've been watching this quickshifter for over a week, when it was listed I put in the minimum bid and I was the highest bidder for a few days. I was then outbid so I waited and this afternoon I upped my my bid to a couple of hundred below the cost of a new one and figured i'd be pretty safe with that.

Guess not.

I've used eBay snipers with great success before, I didn't think to use one this time. Unfortunately, I was beaten at my own game. I guess I'll have to bite the bullet and buy a new one after all. Look out Google, here I come!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Day 193: Gettin' Our Scoot On

Jenna and I took our new scoots for a ride on the foreshores of Burley Griffin today and we had a heap of fun. It was a little chilly and very windy but with all the scooting going on we didn't really feel it much. We decided to have a competition of who could go the furthest on one push, Jenna kept winning even when I was using my jacket as a sail to take advantage of the wind at our backs.

I took a bunch of photos but I liked this one the best, it was when Jenna was chasing the seagulls and I liked how Jenna is silhouetted against the sun reflecting off the water. We had so much fun on the scooters but I must be getting old or something, my scooting leg is it a bit now.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Day 192: Power Gardening

We had planned to hire a garden mulcher from Bunnings this morning to we could mulch up the two large piles of off cuts that have been cluttering up our back yard for longer than I care to remember. Unfortunately Bunnings don't have mulchers available for hire.

After some googling and 6 phone calls to other hirers of mulching machines we found one that was available to hire today. It was a pretty big wood chipper/mulcher machine with a 14 horsepower engine and it was mounted on it's own trailer, initially I thought it might be overkill for what we wanted to do but it was available and we wanted to get it done before it started raining. That didn't really work out so well.

My photo today is split into four sections, working from the top left in a clockwise direction we have: The mound of mulch/wood chip created from the two piles of off cuts and trimmings, the clear space where one of the piles used to be, the wheelie bin that we placed under the chippers chute and the other clear space that was so covered up in off cuts you couldn't see the paving. We got very wet doing all this but it was worth it.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Day 191: Daytona's New Clothes

Being on leave is handy when the Parcel Post man shows up to deliver a box that would have required the trailer to pick up.

Inside was the new race glass I ordered online about 4 weeks ago, it'll still need some prep work before it's ready for fitting though. The surfaces are a little rough and the mounting holes will need to be drilled once it's been prepped and painted, I'll also have to source some quick release fasteners to secure the lower fairing to the upper.

Now I've just got to come up with a suitably simple design and then find the time to prep and paint it all.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Day 190: And Home Again

This morning Andy, Pete and I rode home after a very cold but still enjoyable night in Oberon. We had chinese for dinner at the local RSL and were surprised by the 'choice bro' population in that little town, there must have been some kind of Maori thing going on because we ate dinner to the sound of the Haka being performed next door.

Some of the roads home were a little damp and some were a little icy in the shade, they were all still enjoyable despite the stabbing pain I was feeling in my shoulder (the joys of touring on a sports bike with an inappropriate for touring riding position). I made it home in time for lunch and after I peeled myself out of my wet weather gear, leathers, 5 additional layers of clothing under the leathers and wheeled the bike into the garage I was about ready to collapse. I ended up having a little afternoon snooze while Henry was still having his.

My photo today is Henry in his pyjamas, keeping track of his finances after his bath. I'd never heard of the 'Money Hound' website that he was checking out but after a little research it looks to be a site where you can compare interest rates on home loans, credit cards, Gas & Electricity, personal loans and all manner of other finance related things... Wonder what Henry's planning to get a loan for?

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Day 189: Rocking The Suburbs... Of Tamworth

It had to be done, I've never been to Tamworth before so I had to get the photo in front of the large guitar. Obviously I didn't take this photo as it's a picture of me acting the goose, my special guest photographer today was Pete and I think he did a great job of capturing the moment.

We'd actually already started heading out of town when Andy pulled over and to make a U turn so we could go back for my photo. He's a good bloke like that.

From the overgrown country & western guitar we headed off toward the Upper Hunter region passing a few wineries along the way. There were some spectacular bits of road and some equally impressive scenery which I'm now regretting not stopping to photograph. It was a tough call for me, stop and take a photo of the amazing escarpments along either side of the valley we were riding or keep going on that particularly enjoyable bit of road... I chose to keep riding.

The time that I did stop for a photo in the afternoon sunlight as we were heading in to Oberon gave Pete and Andy a scare. I was following along behind with no way of letting them know I wanted to stop for a photo, they arrived at an intersection and I wasn't behind them so thinking the worst they turned around and headed back to try & find me. It's nice to know your mates will come looking for you if you're running behind, it didn't take long for us to catch up to each other and then continue on to Omeo where we stayed for the night.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Day 188: The Morning Stroll

After a good nights sleep at the Ocean View Hotel in Urunga we were all up fairly early for a gentle stroll down the 1km long board walk that's pretty much out the front of the Hotel. We did this before Breakfast and I took a bunch of photos along the way. I chose this one because it's a bit of a break from bikes and blokes in leather.

After Breakfast we rode one of the best bits of bitumen I've had the pleasure of traveling on two wheels, it was the Water Fall Way that heads up into Dorrigo. From there we headed to Nymboida for morning tea at what has been dubbed 'Rusty's Pub', it's actually the Nymboida Coaching Station Inn which is owned by none other than that famous Kiwi, Russell Crowe. It's a beautiful old building that sits high above a river that flows behind it and next time I'm up this way I'll actually have a look in Rusty's 'Museum Of Interesting Things'.

From Rusty's pub we headed on to Tamworth which unfortunately involved a fair bit of highway riding which was less than comfortable on the R1.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Day 187: Wet & Grubby

I can't remember exactly where this is... I know it's somewhere between Clarence Town and Urunga and I know it was where we stopped for lunch. I think it was Walcha Road or Thunderbolts Way... Are they the same thing?

What ever it was, it would have been an awesome stretch of road to ride in the dry, instead we had light rain and muddy roadworks to contend with. I don't think the R1 has ever been this grubby. From here we continued on in the drizzle and did a section of highway that lead into Urunga, it was nice to be on smooth roads, it was also nice to have the heated handgrips running.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Day 186: Lunch At The Grey Gum Cafe

Day one of our ride saw me leaving Canberra on a balmy -4 morning, I met up with Pete and Andy at Bungendore where we headed out to Tarago, down to Nowra, up through the Kangaroo Valley, on to Moss Vale and then up the highway via the M7 to Windsor and the Putty Road.

Today's photo was lunch at the Grey Gum Cafe which is along the Putty Road, the burgers are great and the road you travel to get there is even better.

From here we continued along the Putty Road and off into territory I'd never visited before, the last 30 odd kilometers of our roughly 650km day were some of the bumpiest roads I've ridden on a road bike. There was one section with some fairly steep rises and falls that made the front wheel feel light. I thought it would be a good idea to wind the throttle on a little as I approached the crest of one of these rises and promptly launched the front wheel up into the air, this was fun until the rear got light causing the tyre to spin under power while the front was still in the air. It was an interesting sensation, the bike never felt unstable and touched down nicely when I eased out of the throttle. All's well that ends well.

We arrived in Clarence Town a little after dark, Andy's mate Al was kind enough to put us up for the night as well as feed us a fantastic slow cooked stew and share his beers & wines with us.

It was a pretty big first day.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Day 185: Full Moon

Driving home from picking Jenna up tonight we both noticed that the moon was very full and was quite low in the sky. My photo today was taken using one of the long exposure settings while resting my camera on the roof of the car in our driveway, I liked how the moon was peeking through the branches of the tree but the photo doesn't really convey how big the moon looked. I think I need more practice with my funky little Nikon...

I'm off on a five day ride with Pete & Andy tomorrow morning and due to the limited luggage options on the R1 I'll be taking Belinda's little Sony point & shoot. I'm sure I'll get some good shots over the next 5 days.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Day 184: Finally Finished

I didn't get time to put the bike back together over the weekend and since I'm heading off on Wednesday morning I thought I should get it done tonight. It all went back together pretty smoothly but I did have to tie wire the throttle grip on because it kept slipping on the tube.

My photo today is of the little switch that turns my Chinese Hot Hands on & off, it's not a very pretty switch but I guess one can't expect too much for a $15 kit.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Day 183: Cold Karate

Jenna had her first Karate tournament today and it involved her spending about 5 hours in a freezing cold high school hall. I have to say that I'm beyond impressed with how well she's done and is continuing to do.

Today Jenna's events were the Individual Kata, Team Kata and Individual Sparing (I can't remember the proper name for this one).

Jenna scored a 1st in her Individual Kata, a 2nd in her Individual Sparing and a 3rd in her Team Kata. She also came away with a cold that had her off school for a couple of days.

My photo for the day is of Jenna scoring a 'stomach level punch' in one of her 4 bouts on the way to coming 2nd outright in her age group. She did incredibly well considering she ended up having three bouts back to back with barely 5 minutes rest between them in the lead up to her final round.