Friday, January 26, 2007

Web Albums

As you all know, I love putting photos on my blog here.... But playing with Picasa tonight, I've become a fan of web albums. It's always so hard to pick the photos that I show to the world, now I get to show a few more. I will of course continue to post photos to the blog here... but if you want to see more... visit my web albums!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Boxing Day at the "G"

We had already won the Ashes... but we were yet to whitewash... the series was at a tense moment.

Aah... I'd been to the Boxing Day cricket test before, but never on Boxing Day itself, nor to the Ashes... So after pestering Rachelle and Tom for a while, they gave me one of the coveted tickets that would also hopefully see Warnie's 700th wicket.

It happened late in the day.... After we were partially frozen from the football-type temperatures. We watched Warnie get not only his 700th wicket, but he scored a 5 wicket innings, in his second last game before retirement...

Go Warnie!!!

Special mention should also go to "Cousin Glenn" - Glenn McGrath who Mum suggests is likely to be some distant relation of ours, who is also soon to retire from cricket.

Sydney summers on the beach

Waves crashing at Avalon

Of all the places I've travelled to in the world, the only beaches coming close to Australia's have been Hawaii's, and let's face it... much of the sand lying on Hawaii's beaches is from Australia anyhow! This summer has been an odd one, weather-wise, so my friend Claire and I agreed on a day, and said we'd go to the beach, rain hail or shine.

The beach at Dee Why

We headed north, to Sydney's beautiful Northern Beaches and ran into a bit of foul weather... It rained most of the way to Palm Beach, however we did get a bit of a break when we stopped for lunch at Avalon.

Claire relaxing on the beach

Then we headed back towards the city, and by the time we got to Dee Why (Just before we were about to give up and go to a movie at Warringah Mall) so we stopped off for a relaxing afternoon on the beach. It was great - one of those beautiful (however still cool) afternoons we get here in Sydney, just before summer kicks in.

Claire and I at Dee Why

Barefoot Bowls at Mosman

Left: Stormclouds rolling in, Right: Here I am with Jodie (Left) and Kate (Centre)

As our 'End of busy season' (implying that there was a quiet season that I've not yet seen) function for work, we had a barefoot bowls day at Mosman (conveniently in walking distance from my place!). It was fairly dicey weather, you can see above the stormclouds rolling in, however we still got a fair bit of play in.

A great day was had by all, and I even learned to bowl a bit!

Dashing through the snow...

Standing on skis

While I was sitting at work one day in England worrying about some hedge fund, I got sidetracked, and found I'd agreed to a ski trip on my return to Australia.

Tim and Pete before we headed out for the first day's lesson

It took place in September, for what was an already fairly poor ski season... We boarded the bus in Sydney at midnight, and pulled into Perisher resort just as the sun was coming up. We waited around for an hour or so before anything even opened to sort ourselves out with ski gear. We were all tired and grumpy, however it was a beautiful day - we just had to get out there and go.

Views of Perisher - Left: the village, Right: My "toddler" slope

As you all probably know, I'm not the world's most accomplished skier. This was my third time ever on skis, the previous times being once at Falls Creek where the weather was so foul we only gave it half a day, the second time being a day of cross country skiing with Greg at Lenggries in Germany, which I have discussed previously on my blog. This time I actually felt as if I ended the trip being able to ski... at least a little, meaning I could make it down the toddler slope (a bit more challenging than the baby slope) and also - (for me perhaps the greater achievement) ended the weekend having finally mastered chairlifts - i.e. being able to ski off them.

Left: Stacks on on the snow; Right: Grant and Pete during a game of "Thumb King"

We also had some great accomodation. Everyone returned after the day's skiing to have a short nap, before tucking into the great dinner and desert that was served for us. We had a great time, and it also gave me the chance to get to know some of the new faces around the office since getting back from England. One night we even headed into Perisher for a night at the pub. A great time seemed to be had by all!

Dinner at Barakee Lodge

Can't wait for next year's trip!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Flashback to Russia - and some feedback on decisions I have made

Before I booked my May 2006 trip to Russia I struggled with the dilemma of how I was going to get from Moscow to St Petersburg. Unfortunately I couldn't book an open-jaw flight, and had to fly both in and out of Moscow, so I was of two minds whether to train or fly the 700 odd kilometres between the two cities.

In the end with the help of a good friend in Moscow, Lena, I went for the rail option. After all - travel by rail in Russia is legendary. If it's good enough for Dr Zhivago and Anna Karenina... it's good enough for me. And my reading on the situation prior to travel suggested that Aeroflot was the best of the Russian airlines, call me prejudiced, but based on the airline's past, that wasn't quite enough assurance for me.

So today following some random browsing on wikipedia, one of my favourite websites, I discovered some scary information on the airline's performance... I think I made the right decision.

Incidentally, my cousin Robert who was also travelling in Russia at the same time, and whom I finally met up with in Krakow, Poland after some Fawlty Towers style communication problems, made the brave decision and flew Aeroflot... He suggested that it was an "experience", after he was advised to shrinkwrap his luggage and personally identify at the other end. (And that's before even considering the in-flight safety!) Maybe next time I'll brave it!

NB: Despite the above predicament I was in, Russia was an absolute highlight of my world trip. I'd be there again in an instant... if only the visa wasn't so expensive! And admittedly, when I look at the link, American airlines and United Airlines are almost as bad... Might do some rethinking for trip 2007!