Long walk in non-rain

I wanted to see if could play a round of golf this morning as part of my social distancing exercise, but the weather forecast was for up to 30mm of rain, with heavy falls at times. So I decided not to go to the golf course, and instead set out on a longish walk, with an umbrella.

As it turned out, it didn’t rain at all today… so I could have easily played a round of golf without weather problems. Oh well. I did put together this virtual photo tour of the parts of Sydney that I walked through today.

Also, here’s a photo of Scully helping me the other day to get my Lego photos done for Irregular Webcomic.

Scully helping with Lego

This afternoon I worked on finishing off writing annotations for the batch of comics.

Also, me and my gaming friends organised a Magic: the Gathering draft tournament, which we drafted today using a custom online web tool built by one of my friends. We’ll be building our decks and playing games remotely using Tabletop Simulator, as a replacement for face-to-face gaming. We drafted the Dominaria set from 2018, which we never managed to do at the time in cardboard format. I think I drafted a terrible deck, but I’m looking forward to playing it!

New content today:

Video walk experiment

Today I thought I’d try making a video of part of the walk I did for exercise, in this time of social distancing when we’re not supposed to leave home for anything but essential activities (of which exercise is counted as one).

I took the video using my phone, mounted on a small handheld steadicam gadget that I got from a Kickstarter a few years ago. It helps smooth out the shakiness of walking while holding the phone, but it’s not perfect. I didn’t speak while walking, but added some comments using a microphone once I got home.

And here’s the walk route, marked on a map of Wollstonecraft, Sydney:

Hopefully this will be a nice virtual walk for some of you who might not have had much chance to get out and about recently.

New content today:

More walking and baking

For today’s exercise, my wife and I took Scully on a walk down to the local golf course, and then through a bushwalk along Gore Creek.

Scully at Gore Creek

It leads to Bob Campbell Oval, a cricket/soccer field near the water.

Scully at Bob Campbell Oval

From here you have to climb The Stairs of Cirith Ungol to get back to my place.

Scully on the Stairs of Cirith Ungol

At home, we were out of bread. Rather than go shopping, I made some damper! This is beer damper, made with 3 cups of self raising flour, a bottle of beer, a pinch of salt… and that’s it! Mix and bake for 30 minutes at 190°C. It turned out really nice.

Beer Damper

This afternoon I played some games with my wife. We played Azul.

Azul

And then Walking in Burano.

Walking in Burano.

New content today:

Patricia Trail and banana bread

It’s Saturday, so although she’s been working from home all week, today my wife had some spare time during the day. So we took a bit of a trip, choosing something to do that wouldn’t involve encountering any people, to respect the coronavirus distancing rules.

I wanted to find somewhere where we could do a bit of walking through some bushland, with Scully. Unfortunately for this plan, dogs are forbidden from National Parks. However, I found that there are some Regional Parks which allow dogs, and there are a few within Sydney. So we set out for the Berowra Valley Regional Park, and in particular the area accessed from the northern end of the suburb of Cherrybrook. Here there is a walking track through the park where dogs are allowed.

Scully on Patricia Trail

The track led through thickly grown forest and undergrowth, but the path was easy enough to follow. Although it was a bit muddy in places from the recent rain this week, and there was also a bit of grass growing on the path.

Scully on Patricia Trail

After completing the track, we did a loop back to where we’d parked the car, walking along the quiet suburban streets. We only saw a few people out and about – it was a lot quieter than the area where we live.

Back home I decided to bake some banana bread.

Home made banana bread

We don’t do a lot of baking, but with the purchasing of a few weeks of non-perishable foodstuffs we suddenly have plenty of flour in the house, so I figured I’d make use of a couple of old bananas. I used a simple recipe found online.

Home made banana bread

It turned out fairly good. Nice flavour, maybe a little denser than commercially produced banana bread. My wife had a slice with yoghurt and honey on top.

Home made banana bread

New content today:

Virtual walking

Today was the end of the working from home week for my wife. She said the week had gone quickly, being hectic with plenty to do.

This morning I finished off the work on the new 100 Proofs That the Earth is a Globe entry, and posted it. Then I went for another long walk to get out in the fresh air and get some exercise.

Berry Island lookout

I went down to Berry Island, which is a tied island in Sydney Harbour. I took a lot of photos on this walk, and rather than upload everything to Flickr and format them here into this entry, I’m just going to link to this Imgur album, which has plenty of photos with detailed commentary.

Tonight we were supposed to have our fortnightly games night gathering, but with the coronavirus social distancing we’ve converted to a virtual games night, using the Board Game Arena online platform for playing board games. I’m actually in the middle of playing games with my friends as I type, in combination with a Discord voice chat, and it’s working really well. So far we’ve played 6 Nimmt, Perudo, Colt Express, and Niagara.

New content today:

Another big walk

I went for a longer walk today, to get out of the house a bit and enjoy the fresh air – and also give my wife time to do her work alone in the house (with Scully). I avoided busy places and took to suburban back streets, heading in roughly the opposite direction to yesterday.

Steps into the gully

These steps lead to the suburb of Waverton. The terrain around where I live is, as I may have said before, very hilly.

Newlands Lane

The steps lead down into this forested gully, with a walking path leading up it. However I climbed another set of steps up the opposite side.

Terraces

In this part of Sydney there are a lot of Victorian era terrace houses, with lovely restored wrought iron railings and decorative filigree in well-maintained versions, such as these.

Near boatbuilders

I walked through Waverton to the adjacent suburb of McMahons Point, and then down to the shore of Sydney Harbour. This is Berrys Bay, a small bay on the harbour. The water is clear and you can see oysters growing on the rocks below. I walked around the shoreline to the left.

Berrys Bay walkway

This cool little walkway joins two small promontories of public land, skirting around a bit of the shore where private property goes right down to the waterline.

Sawmillers panorama

It leads to Sawmillers Reserve, a secluded green space on the water, with a view across the harbour to the city skyline (visible on the left side of this panorama).

MSB hopper barge wreck

Just off the shore is the wreck of a Maritime Services Board hopper barge, which I presume was used to transport lumber from the old historic sawmill that used to occupy this location on the shore (and gave the Reserve its current name).

Blues Point Hotel

From Sawmillers Reserve, I walked uphill to Blues Point Road, and the Art Deco Blues Point Hotel, another the many Art Deco pubs dotted around Sydney.

Sandstone cottage

There’s even older architecture around here too, such as this old sandstone cottage, which is still in use as somebody’s home. About here I turned around to walk back home. In all I was out walking for close to two hours.

At home I spent the afternoon catching up on ISO standards work, downloading bunches of reports and presentations from the last meeting, ostensibly in Yokohama, but held virtually. Tomorrow I plan to write up my report on the meeting for Standards Australia.

New content today:

Taking care of business, part 2

(Oh, haha, I see I’ve already used that as a post title…)

Today was dedicated to steps along the road to getting myself set up with a photography sales business. I set up my website a while ago, and now I’m implementing a bunch of stuff necessary to start selling prints. Today I got a monitor colour calibration tool and properly calibrated my monitor, then I prepared a few selected photos in Photoshop files with all the required colour profile settings, ready to send to the printing lab to have them printed on art quality paper. The next stage is to send them off and have a few test prints made. Then I’ll be ready to start selling and shipping them to people.

The other thing is that the printer I’m using can put my photos on their website, with the handful of art photographers that they work with, and start selling online off their website. I’ll also be adding a shop on my own website, to collect orders through my own advertising.

And another thing I did was to register for an Australian Business Number. This is required for all the dull business/tax things that I need to start keeping track of, and filing with the government.

To calibrate my monitor I needed to pick up the tool from the city, and then I realised I needed a calibration print from the printer, so I walked over there to get one. It was a fair walk, and I passed some interesting things along the way:

Mortuary Station

Regent Street Station, formerly known as Mortuary Station, a now disused railway station that used to be the stop where bodies were loaded to be transported to Rookwood Cemetery, in Sydney’s west.

Codenames Blue Spy

Some cool street art. It reminded me of one of the blue spy cards in Codenames.

Austin of England

“Austin of England” car, circa 1951. Showing the typical mud-spattered look that many Sydney cars now sport, due to the combination of dust storms and rainstorms, and water restrictions that make it more difficult to wash cars.

Ravenswood, 1896

Ravenswood, a Federation style building from 1896.

By the time I got home I was very warm and sweaty, from the humid heat that has settled over Sydney in the past couple of weeks. But it was an exciting day for another reason! Today was Scully’s first day on the job as a Delta Therapy Dog!

Delta Dog

Here she is in uniform, ready to go to work at Royal North Shore Hospital. My wife is her official Delta handler, and they both had to pass training and evaluation to qualify for this role. They’re doing patient visits in the orthopaedics ward at the hospital, to help cheer the patients up and improve their recovery. I’m extremely proud of both of them – when I first heard of this program I didn’t think it was a serious possibility for them to qualify for it. But I’m very happy they did!

New content today:

Taking care of business

I had a busy day today. I had a meeting scheduled at 2pm with a guy who runs an art photo printing company. One of my contacts through the Standards Australia committee for photography that I chair was the former owner of the business, and he arranged to meet us there and introduce us.

The site was in the city, not far from where one of my friends works, so I contacted him and asked if he wanted to meet up for lunch beforehand. With a lunch appointment set, I headed into the city on the train a couple of hours early, so I could browse around in some bookshops and then walk from there to lunch. I took some photos along the way:

Sydney Town Hall

This is Sydney Town Hall, the seat of the local city government council. They’re the ones who put on the famous New Year’s Eve fireworks, among other things. This lovely old building also hosts concerts and other events. It has a magnificent pipe organ.

From here I walked south down George Street, the central city’s main thoroughfare, until I reached Broadway, which is really just the continuation of George Street as it gently turns west. Here there are some lovely old Art Deco hotel/pub buildings:

Bar Broadway

This is the Bar Broadway, which used to be Sutherland’s Hotel (hence the old signage above). Behind it you can see the tall tower of the newish Central Park building, with the greenery on the exterior. Closer up it looks like this:

Central Park, Broadway

The dangling thing over the middle is an array of solar reflectors, to reflect sunlight down into parts of the building that are in the shade. This building is mostly student accommodation, because the University of Technology, Sydney, is right across the road. Here’s an exterior walkway along the road just outside one of the university buildings:

UTS tunnel

And out the other side there’s another old Art Deco hotel:

Broadway Crown, formerly Hotel Broadway

This one is the Broadway Crown, formerly known as the Hotel Broadway. This is near where I had lunch with my friend. We discussed various things, including our stalled comic project, Eavesdropper. He said that what we’d been doing was essentially a first draft of the story in his head, and it wasn’t a final polished version in his opinion. What he needs to do is get the whole story down on paper, and then revise it. So illustrating it further as a comic doesn’t really make sense – doubly so because of how much effort I had to put into drawing the artwork. So I think we can officially call the comic project finished, albeit not completed.

We also talked about games we’ve been playing lately and plan to play in the future. I need to knuckle down and write the next instalment of our current D&D adventure that I’m running.

After lunch, I headed to my meeting at the photo printing place. I met the owner and he showed me around the print shop, and we discussed the various printing machines and paper stocks and mounting and framing options he had available. I said I wanted to to start selling mounted and framed prints of my photography, from an online shop on my website, and he said they had art photographers listing photos for sale on the print shop’s website, so the photographers themselves don’t need to run a shop site. Customers can order prints, they print and frame and ship them, and give the mark-up to the photographer, minus a small percentage for hosting the online shop. This sounds perfect! So I’m going to go through the details with him by email and produce some photo files that they can sell as large prints. Initial selections will be some of the photos that you can see on my portfolio site.

I got home late in the afternoon. My wife and I took Scully for a walk and run around the park near our place. Then we made some more pizza with the home-made feta. I’d left a chunk of it sitting in a bowl of milk in the fridge all day, to draw some of the salt out, and that trick worked well. The resulting cheese was milder, and the pizza wasn’t as salty as yesterday.

As I was relaxing into the evening, news broke of a fire in a school in Sydney. It was Lane Cove Public School, which is the school where I teach Primary Ethics! Fortunately the kids are still on summer holidays, but their school hall and canteen are reported to have burnt down. The hall apparently had a lot of musical instruments stored inside, so the students are going to have it tough until they can buy new instruments. Fortunately no classrooms were affected. It’s going to be interesting to see how the recovery is going when I return there in a few weeks to start teaching a new year of kids Ethics.

New content today:

Retrieving my sunglasses

This morning I walked over to the golf course to pick up my lost sunglasses. It’s a fair walk, and very hilly – it took me almost exactly an hour to walk there and back. Here’s a view looking down one of the hills.

Downhill and the city

Scully was doing a lot better today, after yesterday’s sickness. I took her to the dog park down by the water this afternoon and we had a walk with the other dogs and owners there. She had a good run around and has her appetite back.

Oh, and I updated the Irregular Webcomic! poll question. From Christmas decorations to… mint…

New content today:

School presentation and birds

This morning was the end of year Presentation Day assembly at the primary school where I do my volunteer science teaching stuff. As in the last few years, the school invited me to present the Science Award to the best science student. I get a reserved parking spot, and a seat on the stage with other special guests – it’s pretty cool. They present a whole bunch of academic, sports, and community awards to students, and “graduation” awards to the departing Year 6 class, going on to high school next year. This was the last time I’ll visit the school before the new year starts, and I wished the kids I saw from my Science Club a good Christmas holidays.

Afterwards, I decided to take advantage of being up on the northern beaches and took a walk for about an hour and a half around the Long Reef headland, which is a good spot to do some bird watching. I opened my account today with a crested pigeon:

Crested pigeon

I got a good shot of a red wattlebird (the bird isn’t red, it has red wattles, below the eyes):

Red wattlebird

And I managed to get a decent shot of a bird I hadn’t photographed before, a nankeen kestrel. It was flying overhead and I couldn’t tell what it was, silhouetted against the sky. I boosted the exposure and shot wildly, trying to follow it across the sky:

Nankeen kestrel

I could go on, but rather than post all the photos here, I’ve stuck them in an Imgur album with species IDs, which you can check at your leisure if interested. (They’re also in my Flickr stream, link below.)

I had some lunch nearby, and then drove a few minutes to Warriewood Wetlands, which is another bird hostspot, and photographed some more birds (also in the album). I got home just in time to take Scully out to the park for afternoon exercise. And then I spent the rest of the evening processing and uploading bird photos. 🙂

New content today: