Canberra Day Twenty Four

Tuesday 4th October, 2016

Aaahh! Another satisfying day. A bit of a different day today. I wanted to do the early bird walk around Floriade with the Heart Foundation. It’s a free thing where you get early entry into Floriade at 8am for a group brisk walk around the gardens while they’re free of all the other tourists. Photos optional, to be taken after the walk; it’s meant to be a heart healthy exercise not just gawping. The weather was meant to be windy but dry so it seemed like a good plan. I’m trying to get back into my routine of early morning starts so this was going to be good. I just forgot to plan for it! No alarm, no wakey wakey! Luckily hubby got back from his 5am bike ride in time to wake me up, but obviously you need to get there early because when I turned up at 8.02am there was no sign of them!

Hubby had said go for a walk anyway, good plan, but it was feeling very early to me so instead I headed home and went back to bed for a couple of hours. Felt brilliant when I woke up! So off I went to the other walk that I’ve had in the back of my mind for a week or so: Mulligan’s Flat. A very deceptive name; it’s not very flat and no one seems to know exactly who Mulligan is! But anyway, they have a fabulous nature reserve, some of it contained in kangaroo fencing and so I’d planned to have a look around. I wanted to do a walk for myself and to please hubby, and I wanted to see some exciting birds, but I was feeling sluggish. But after 500m or so I perked up when I entered the gate and picked up my bird walk map from the mailbox and off I went. I did realise it was 6km from the map, and didn’t really think I’d do it all, but I did! It turned out that it was a loop so after a certain point you kind of have to keep on going! I was dressed for it which helped, and the birds were fantastic! And the echidnas, and the kangaroos, and the landscapes, and the numbered points along the track describing different birds and habitats and interesting facts! All of that kept me going but still it was 4.5hours later when I stumbled back to the car!! Far out, that has to be a record!! I don’t think I’ll be able to move tomorrow! But it’s all very exciting because the last time hubby and I inadvertently did 7km it was very difficult. Of course at different points I wanted to sit down, stop for a bit etc but I got through it well, the incessant wind, the rain showers becoming plain rain at the end, the huge big male red kangaroo standing guard, and the flooded pathways requiring shoes and socks to come off and bare feet to tackle the inundated mud, grass, gravel paths under an ankle to mid calf height of water. I did it all! I really am going well, and its so satisfying!!!

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Today I got 3 lifers [5th October: correction 4 maybe 5 lifers!!!] (birds that I’ve never seen before in my life)!!! Rufous Whistler, Superb Parrot, Speckled Warbler!!! Amazing! This is what I hoped for when we came to Canberra; new species of birds in new types of habitat. And I’m getting it, fantastic! I realise that this may not be half as interesting to you as it is for me, but try to supplement whatever excites you in place of my birds.

Then I went and got a large Coke and slurped the whole thing, went back to my current house and after trying to remain awake, gave up and went and had another nap before dinner. A delicious dinner of chicken parmas with mash and vegies, looking through my 700 photos of the day and finally this! After midnight. How’s tomorrow’s early bird walk looking?

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Canberra Day Fourteen

Today was so satisfying.

We were planning to go away for the ACT long weekend. Ever since we first found out that we were coming up here we’re planned to explore the area around Canberra and into NSW while we’re nearby. So, first long weekend, what to do? Unfortunately the week just flew by and it was Friday night before we knew it and we hadn’t organized anything. Don’t panic, all is not lost. As it turns out hubby wanted to do a morning bunch ride which would get him back home by 9.30am, and I really wanted to attend the Government House open day at 11am because I had heard that these days don’t come around often, and it’s something I’ve never done. So we happily “compromised”. Read: not really, we just changed our thinking from what we “should do” i.e. leave Friday night after work, to what we wanted to do and what worked much better for us. A victory over the “should”s.)

Hubby did a ride, and then another ride; very excited to be out riding and out riding with a group of like-minded people who wanted to push themselves, and I’m thrilled that he’s back out because he really needs his riding to keep everything else in balance. No riding for hubby=no joy for wife. I went to Government House and was blown away by the sheer crowds of other people wanting to do the same thing! Seriously, it was incredible! And the whole Government House experience was worth it, for sure. The old English style very much prevailing in old fashioned buildings. Hubby feels sorry for the Queen who never gets to say in upscale modern buildings with all the mod cons. But there’s something so familiar about these old places; or maybe that from my grandparents-in-law’s sitting room…the exact same floor rugs and carpets, tea settings, sofa chairs; the list goes on! Even a cushion in the EXACT same fabric. Sadly you couldn’t take photos inside.

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So mission accomplished for both of us. Then time to chill and check out accommodation without rushing, and set off on our holiday, still with two days ahead of us. We might do it this way again; it really worked for us. A gorgeous drive over through the dramatic and scenic Kangaroo Valley and surrounding mountains which should be worth visiting on the way back, and arriving just in time for a walk along the bay/river at Shoalhaven Heads where we’re staying at the hotel. A yummy dinner in the hotel restaurant watching Bulldogs reign supreme over GWS in the proper football code on the big screen, then a baffling time trying to figure out what the Raiders and Storm were doing; and don’t dare barrack for Melbourne in that room!! So much to look forward to, so much enjoyed already. Life is good.

Canberra Day Three

13th September, 2016

I promise that my posts are getting (okay, will get…) shorter as I progress through the 90 days that I anticipate I’ll be spending in Canberra! The writing to photo ratio is all wrong. And I’m aiming to get them in line with the days themselves; I’m confusing myself writing the day after!

It was a bit of a funny day. Same start to the day today, albeit more sluggishly cos I left going to bed, and more significantly taking my tablets, until 11pm. Meaning I was a bit “hung over” when it came time to wake up. Nevertheless, I jumped in the car early with hubby to drive into his work with him by 8am, then took over the wheel and started off on what is becoming my morning “pick a road at random and explore before breakfast” drive. I had woken up by then; I promise I didn’t drive hung over.

“Peak hour” traffic was really not a thing yesterday, at least not between Harrison and Dickson. Aiming to get to hubby’s work by 8am today did take a tad longer, like 4 minutes longer! I love the traffic!!! I might as well be back home in Shepparton, a town of 25,000. No waiting, no kilometre long lines of traffic, delays of half an hour – instead you just go where you want when you want and the traffic just flows. You could get used to it…

Today I headed south across the bridge over Lake Burley Griffin towards Parliament House then took a left and passed by what I assume are some of the embassies with flags in front of grand houses. The highlight was Mugga Drive in a suburb somewhere which has a fabulous view over the city and to the mountains beyond.

Home again for late breakfast, then writing up yesterday’s blog, trying to sort out the glitch in my website, adding the list of birds that I saw at Black Mountain yesterday into the ebird database, phaphing around doing nothing in particular but spending a lot of time! Oh, and unpacking my suitcases! That was fun, not. I mean, it had to be done sometime, but I was putting it off for some obscure reason. Anyway, its done. I forgot to bring clothes hangars but luckily our awesome hosts have spares. Then back to bed by lunchtime cos the drowsiness was just persisting and I couldn’t think straight!

Got myself up after a couple of hours, and even though the day had been a bit of a wash out, and nothing much in particular was happening, I just decided not to let that go any longer. Time to get my bike out and hit the trails, especially since the rest of the week could be rained out. So I did it. I pulled myself together (to me that’s the most impressive part), got dressed, got my gear together and didn’t forget anything, successfully drove there and back with the car on the roof and it stayed on the roof! Hubby has me on a training schedule and this week I’m doing 15 and 20km rides. Well, kicking that off I rode the western loop of Lake Burley Griffin by myself, and clocked up over 19.5km! And it was beautiful! The skies were really dramatic looking like they’d start raining any minute, and the lake was so still and the trees, the grass, everything was so lovely! Stand by for a Lake Burley Griffin portfolio! I stopped and started a bit too much to take photos; I got a bit cold, which is rare for me. It was challenging with “undulations” but so worth it. I’ll definitely do that again!

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So this has to be my photo for today. A bike ride on a not-so-hot day AFTER my nap, and late in the day when I could have decided not to bother. Pushing myself through the undulations, but loving the downhills. My first bike ride in Canberra. A solo ride, my first for Canberra. First ride around Lake Burley Griffin. Lots of things to celebrate! So here I am at 3.30pm deciding to make something of the day despite it all.

It should have been 16km, but I’m having some issues reading signs! Not literally, my vision is fine. But it’s like I decide what I’m doing to do before I even read the sign based on what makes sense to me, then I read but don’t register the sign, and carry on doing my own thing regardless. So far in the 3 days I’ve been in Canberra I’ve done 2 laps of the entire city in the car after missing my turn TWICE while trying to find my own way and refusing to use GPS, I’ve walked for 3.5 hours instead of 2 hours on Black Mountain cos I didn’t pay attention to where I should have parked and thought I was somewhere else, and now a 4km detour into the Australian National University because I skimmed the sign and thought I should go straight ahead instead of veer off! Oh and the shower. It’s a new shower to me and doesn’t have the symbols on it…tell me though, isn’t it always hot to the right and cold to the left on those mixer taps? Someone agree with me. I was getting very annoyed at whoever used up all the hot water, and my hair was half wet so now what was I going to go, etc, until my hubby pointed out that I was turning it the wrong way!! I feel that there must be a lesson here somewhere…

Lastly for the day, a really enjoyable night out with loads of new people at a baby shower for a girl I’ve sort of known over a few years, and reconnected with this year. I forgot that there would be so many new people until I was inside the door, which I’m really pleased about because it has happened twice in our 3 days that there’s been a bit group of new people, and I haven’t had any anxiety about it at all! Hubby and I agree that I’m not high, I’m not low, and we feel like maybe this is what normal will be like; and we’re happy with that. Some great days, some struggling days, and some middling days. Isn’t that life for someone who isn’t mentally or physically unwell? It’s not all excitement and performance, sometimes it’s just step by step. This would be my photo of the day if it weren’t for my bike ride.

Last thing.

I’ve finally had success getting more photos onto my website after a technical glitch. I have to commend Fran from Adobe for being super helpful! The link for yesterday is below, and there’ll be more to come with coming posts. I’m so pleased with my website and the individual portfolios!! I love my photography, it’s so satisfying and fulfilling. Having somewhere other than Facebook to share it, and share it professionally is so exciting! I really hope that you find something you enjoy, whether it’s scenery, birds, my journey in Canberra or life in general.

For more photos of today, see my website: Bike ride and baby shower

See also my Canberra Day Two photos: Black mountain views and Black Mountain Birds

Competition

Saturday afternoon. Flat day. Nothing much to report. Had a few naps. In between I got a very little bit of nothing done. Ate breakfast, had a nap, ate a snack, had a nap, etc! Anything to escape my head, it’s chasing me round and round and I’m so tired.

My husband and a workmate had plans to play squash in the evening. I was very welcome. I wasn’t planning on going, but my husband talked me into going to watch. Then into putting on sporting type clothes for the first time in who knows how long and going to watch. And taking my squash racquet just in case.

So off we went.

There’s a bit of history to this story.

When I was in high school we played squash for one of our year seven PE classes and I really liked it. Didn’t do anything much about it. A couple of times when we had friends over in the holidays we went to the local courts with Mum and Dad’s old racquets and had a game.

Then I moved to Melbourne for uni. My boyfriend (now husband) and I went and played squash a couple of times, again with old racquets, and really got into it. So I got my own racquet and it become our Monday night regular. For two years we played at the cutesy neighbourhood gym every Monday night. We didn’t sign up for the competition; it was our Monday night date night.

After two years I moved suburbs and we kept up the Monday night fixture for a while then it drifted off. The extra distance just made it that much harder and other things came up, like part time work and flat mates to hang out with.

When we got married and move to the country, there wasn’t a squash court within easy distance. We went to the next town over once or twice but we were out of practice and I just annoyed my husband playing feeble shots.

So it’s been a while, and here we are back at the squash court where we used to be regulars. I chose to be scorer for the first match, again not planning to play at all. But then this amazing thing happened!

I love watching sports! Olympic swimming, running, diving, jumping; bike riding, tennis, soccer, footy. I don’t so much care for listening to sports on the radio, it’s okay but not as good as watching, and I never waste my time reading the scores or keeping up with what’s going on in the newspaper.

Those who have ever seen me watch footy on TV will know that I really get into it! I love barracking!! I get really excited.

And watching sports in person, it turns out, really gets me going! I get into the sportsmanship of it, I get into the competition and the skills of the players and my barracking spirit fires up!

And before I know it, I’m playing!! Enjoying it no end too. And here’s a bonus of putting on 18kg in 6 months; I can play awesome shots!! I can really throw my weight behind my backhand and slice, and really nail the return shot!!

I’m actually a competitor to my husband! That is no end of satisfying to me!! I can make him run around the court chasing my awesome shots! Well I better not get too cocky, he and his workmate can still fire shots that I can’t meet. But it’s a LOOONNNGG time since I ran that much by choice, perspired that much by choice and really enjoyed myself! It is a fabulous feeling to compete and win some points; really satisfying!

This is the first time I have actually proven the point that so many people have tried to make to me; that exercise increases your serotonin. However temporarily.

Unfortunately I get home, cool down, wind down and there I am again; down. Physically, emotionally, mentally. Maybe slightly less so; hard to say. With some good memories, and a little rested from the mess in my mind. True. But still back to square one. Disappointing. Ah well, there’s next week. Looking forward to it!

Ducks, ducks, ducks

All my life I’ve been interested in ducks. Then one birthday I got a batch of ducklings and a new era began. I watered my ducks, fed them, took them for walks, supervised sitting mothers, disposed of rotten eggs, shooed them into their pen at night, shooed them into the channel for swims and watched over the baby ducklings like a mother.

I kept muscovy ducks and khaki campbell ducks. When I left home for the city to study I had to leave them behind and eventually they dwindled down to zero. But I still want to keep them again one day. And I’m always looking out for ducks wherever I go.

Luckily where I live now there is a park with lots of ducks. Pacific black ducks, Australian wood ducks and one Australian grey teal duck.

Pacific black duck

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Pacific black duck down by the river

Australian wood duck

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Male and female pair of Australian wood ducks

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My favourite flying sequence of Autralian wood ducks on the lake!

Australian grey teal

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Australian grey teal duck at the zoo

These are the common types of ducks that you’re likely to see around all about.

Then there are some really cool types of ducks, that you have to put effort into looking for. Luckily for me, a bunch of them make their home in the Japanese garden at the zoo and I was able to see them yesterday and grab a few snaps.

Australian shelduck

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Australian shelduck male and female pair

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Pair of Australian shelducks, female in front

Chestnut teal

chestnut teal, grass, lake

Male chestnut teals

 Hardhead duck

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Male hardhead duck

Plumed whistling duck

whistling ducks, grass, sun

Pair of plumed whistling ducks at the zoo

Lots of fun! There’s another type of duck that we used to go for drives and look for when I was a kid in the winter; the mountain duck. I can’t find it in my field guide so I’ll have to do some more research and find out exactly what type of duck it was.

I’ll get back to you!!