Golfing

Today’s post is going to be a bit self-indulgent, so I hope that’s okay! I played my postponed round of golf this morning – it was my very first time on a “proper” golf course. All my learning and practice so far has been on the Terry Hills “Pitch and Putt” course that I wrote about a couple of months ago.

This morning I went to Lane Cove Golf Club, which is the nearest golf course to where I live. It’s not a full length course, having only 9 holes with a mix of par 3 and 4. If you play it twice, the 18 holes have a par 64 for the course. But it was still a daunting step up for me, who had never hit a driver before apart from a few times at the driving range last time I played with Andrew.

I started at hole 1, and two other guys appeared behind me, waiting their turn. Under the pressure of them watching, I messed up my tee shot, and so invited them to play ahead of me. They were friendly and agreed to go ahead, and I felt a lot better following them than having someone behind me the whole time.

Here’s the par 3 hole 3, an uphill hole, with my ball waiting to be hit at the bottom:

Hole 3, par 3

I hit my tee shot pretty well! Here’s where it landed:

Hole 3, par 3, tee shot

From here I pitched onto the green, but needed 3 putts to sink it, so I scored a 5. As I approached the green, the guys ahead of me were preparing to tee off on hole 4, adjacent. They asked me how I was going so far, and I said okay. They said, “Wait until you get to this next one!” I looked at it:

Hole 4, par 3

Whoa! Now that probably doesn’t look too hard for an experienced golfer, but to me that wooded gully was very intimidating. I couldn’t get away with a flubbed stroke searing along the grass – I had to hit a nice lofted shot through the air. With the pressure on, I lost two balls into the gully! My third attempt cleared it, thankfully, but rolled back down that hill on the other side, and I had to drop a ball. Oh well – better luck next time.

The 6th hole presented another interesting problem:

Hole 6, par 3

It’s downhill, and pretty short. If you hit too far, you’ll go over the green and into the bush there. So I deliberately tried to hit short. My shot landed on the slope leading down to the green and rolled….

Hole 6, par 3

Right onto the green! Yay!! That was one of my best shots of the day. Unfortunately, it was a very long putt, and I needed 3 putts to sink it, but that got me a bogey, which I’m fairly pleased with. Hole 7, on the other hand, was a disaster:

Hole 7, par 4

My first attempt at teeing off hit the trees on the right. I tried again, and went into the bush on the left. Finally my third shot went down the fairway. But not very far. I ended up taking 12 shots to finish this hole. And here’s the 9th hole:

Hole 9, par 4

I did well on this one. My first shot went down the fairway, and my second shot ended up right next to the green. I pitched once, and putted it in 2, for a total of 5, my second bogey of the day.

I stopped after 9 holes, with a total of 64, exactly twice the par for 9 holes (of 32). I don’t think that’s too bad for my very first go on a “big” course!

Phew! And tonight is fortnightly games night with the guys – I’ll be leaving home soon and queuing this post for automatic posting later tonight.

New content today:

Fitness Thursday

I’ve been busy every morning this week so far, so today was the first real chance to go for a run. I did my now usual 5k run route, from home up* to the nearest sports oval, and then laps until I reach the 5k mark.

* Literally up. From my place to the oval is an elevation rise of 40 metres. There are stairs.

I tried to beat my previous best effort, by doing longer running segments and fewer walking segments, and I succeeded, with a time of 5:49 per km, beating my previous best of 5:52. (i.e. 29:05 for the 5k, versus 29:20.) One annoying thing I discovered with my new phone is that it’s impossible to unlock it while running. My previous phone had fingerprint unlock, which worked fine, but the new one has face ID, which I could not get to work while running – I presume because it needs your face to be relatively still, not bouncing around all over the place. And forget trying to type my password while running, without my reading glasses. So I couldn’t get lap times or anything, and had to wait until I’d completed the run and stopped before I could unlock my phone and stop the timer.

For lunch I went out to the fish & chip shop, but this time I decided to try one of their burgers rather than seafood and chips. I got the basic beef burger, which of course comes with tomato, lettuce, fried onions, and sliced beetroot. It was good! I’ll have to get burgers from there more often.

To eat I went to my favourite lunch spot, about which I previously wrote about someone illegally poisoning the trees. The shade trees are now even more dead looking, and throwing essentially zero shade on the seats. I sought a shady spot down the slope, sitting on the grass under a large gum tree, where the view isn’t as good as this:

Lunch spot view

To head home, I decided not to walk along the streets, but to take the bushwalk route along the creek. It’s a steep set of carved sandstone steps down from the lookout point to sea level, where you walk along a mangrove swamp for a bit, before heading inland and uphill, following the creek gully.

Gore Cove mangroves

It’s a 1 kilometre walk up the creek back to my home, and was very pleasant being in the deep shade of the forested gully, rather than the hot and sunny streets. I really like having areas, albeit small, that look like wilderness so close to home.

This afternoon, Scully had her first exam to qualify as a Delta therapy dog. My wife organised this to see if we can volunteer with Scully to visit hospitals and so on, to let patients interact with a dog to help brighten their day. The Delta Society is a volunteer organisation that does this. They have pretty strict requirements on the dogs, so we have to go through a bunch of tests. Today was the physical exam by the vet, which Scully passed with flying colours. On Sunday we do a 15-minute interview during which they test Scully for obedience, calmness, and ability to be handled by strangers without reacting adversely. We don’t know if she’ll pass that one, but we don’t think there’s any obvious issue that will instantly rule her out. It’s going to be a matter of degree and how strict they are. We have our fingers crossed.

New content today:

Running and phoning

This morning I went for another 5k run. I skipped last week due to being overseas, and I’m still getting over a back strain I sustained during the trip. I’m setting this up as an excuse, because I didn’t manage to best my previous time. This time I averaged 6:13 per kilometre, which is my second fastest time. Hopefully next week I can improve again!

After getting back home and cooling off, I set out to a shopping centre a few stops away by train to pick up a new phone. It turns out the latest release of iOS is no longer supported by my old iPhone, with the result that when I upgraded my desktop machine some apps got broken and no longer synch between phone and desktop. This was kind of unsupportable as I use those apps frequently for things like shopping lists and keeping appointments. So I decided to bite the bullet and get a new phone.

One advantage is that the camera technology has improved a lot over my old phone. And for someone like me who takes a lot of photos, and enjoys the technical side of photography, that’s a substantial positive change. I experimented with it a lot this afternoon, and here’s one of the photos, taken while out walking Scully on the path we take by the harbour:

Berrys Bay

For lunch today I had leftover ratatouille that I cooked for dinner last night. There was some drama while cooking it, as I’d added all but one of the ingredients and the dish was basically 90% done, when I discovered we had no tomato paste in the pantry. I had to get my wife to watch the stove while I raced out to the grocery store to buy some. I tracked the walk on my phone, and it was almost 3 kilometres and took over 20 minutes. I wonder if other people do this sort of thing often.

I also started writing another of the 100 Proofs that the Earth is a Globe today. I’d hoped to finish and post it today, but there was so much other stuff going on that I’m barely half way through. Maybe tomorrow, although I have some other more urgent things I need to do then too.

New content today:

What monsters lurk in men

I was reminded today of just how horrible humans can be sometimes.

I decided to walk up to the fish & chip shop near my place to get some lunch, and then out to my favourite eating spot. It’s a lookout at the end of a street, perched on a hill with a view of Sydney Harbour. Not the grandest view, but a pretty nice one, and convenient for me to walk to. This is the spot where I mentioned magpies accosted me and my meal recently. No magpies today, thankfully, and this was the view:

Vista Street view

Lovely, right? Here’s a panorama to show more of the surroundings:

Vista Street lookout panorama

At the left of the panorama you can see the wooden bench where I usually sit to eat my lunch. There’s also an old white wooden chair frame, but the seat is missing – I don’t know why it’s still there. Anyway, here’s a closer shot of the bench:

Vista Street bench, with poisoned shade trees

This is where it gets nasty. See the trees, the partly foliaged one in the middle, the deadish looking one on the left, and the one on the right with many branches removed? Normally these trees have very full foliage and provide a deep, full shade to the wooden bench, making it perfect for sitting on. Today, as you can see, the bench is at best 30-40% shaded, with the hot spring sun burning down on the rest. What’s going on? And wait… what’s that sign?

Illegal tree poisoning notice

Some inconsiderate bastard has illegally poisoned the trees! This is unfortunately not an uncommon occurrence in Sydney, almost always around the harbour where some inconvenient tree happens to block the waterfront view of someone’s house. When these trees are fully dead and gone, the views from the houses behind them will take in considerably more of the harbour (and will provide no shade at all to my lunch seat). As you can see, tree poisoning is such a serious concern in Sydney that the law provides for fines up to $1.1 million – if the culprit is caught.

Tree poisoning notice

The council may have installed some CCTV cameras to keep a watch on the area, but I fear it’s too late. There have been some successful prosecutions for tree poisoning in Sydney, but often the perpetrator gets away with it due to lack of evidence.

On a brighter note, this morning I did another 5k run. I tried to push myself a bit faster than last time, and managed to drop my time from 6:25/km (8 Oct) and 6:19/km (15 Oct) to 5:52/km today! I still feel there’s a decent amount of improvement to go, so I’ll be keen to keep this up and try harder next time. Also, I can feel that my body is getting used to the exercise – I don’t feel nearly as sore as after that first run.

And otherwise I’ve been preparing for my trip to Germany tomorrow. I’m flying to Frankfurt via Dubai, then getting a train to Essen. On Sunday I’ll be attending the Spiel board game exhibition. The Monday morning I get a train to Cologne for three days of ISO Photography Standards meetings, before flying home on Thursday. I arrive back home Saturday morning, 2 November, so I’ll be gone just over a week. I’ll try to post updates from over there, but may not manage it – I’ll have to see.

New content today:

Running faster

One week after my first 5k run of the current exercise plan, I returned to the oval today to clock up another 5 kilometres. Again I alternated sprints and walking segments, though I did a few longer sprints than last time. Overall, last week I clocked 6:25 per kilometre, and today 6:19 per kilometre, so that was an improvement! And I don’t think my legs had fully recovered from last week either – they were already a little sore at the beginning.

I walked home from the oval through the Gore Hill Cemetery, which is an old historical cemetery, decommissioned some years ago, and now overgrown, with most of the graves forgotten and untended. There’s an angel headstone here which is one of my favourite photographic subjects. Her mood changes with the season and the weather. Today she was in a spring mood:

Considering a spring day

This afternoon I worked on some website coding for a new project that I’m not quite ready to announce yet. And my wife and I took Scully for a walk down to the harbour where there’s a park where she can run around off leash. For dinner I was going to make pizza, but I forgot to buy cheese today! So we converted to pasta instead, with a pumpkin, walnut, feta, and chilli sauce. (Which would have been our pizza topping.)

New content today:

Bird photo walk

This morning I took a drive to Sydney’s northern beach suburbs, specifically to Narrabeen, where there is a large lagoon. There is a walking track all the way around the lagoon, over 8 km long. I didn’t walk the whole thing, but rather only a small section on the southern shore, passing through some bushland. I took my camera and longest lens, prepared to photograph birds.

Near the car park were several ducks. These are Pacific black ducks hybridised with introduced mallards. Mallards are much more aggressive breeders and hybridise readily with the native ducks. This is a concern for local wildlife experts, because it’s diluting the pure Pacific duck genotype, and may lead to the elimination of the Pacific black duck as a species.

Pacific black duck x Mallard

On the water were some black swans. Fortunately these don’t hybridise with the introduced mute swans that can be found in some places.

Black swans

The next bird I spotted was one I haven’t photographed before, a sacred kingfisher. Unfortunately I only saw it in the distance through dense foliage, and my camera refused to focus on it, so I had to fiddle with manual focus. This was the only photo I managed to get. Still, that’s another one added to my list!

Sacred kingfisher

Next is an Australian king parrot, this one a male, distinguished by the red head. The females look similar, but have a green head. These are moderately large parrots – larger than most species apart from the cockatoos. They are usually found in mated pairs, so there was probably a female hanging around somewhere out of sight. They’re very conspicuous. There’s a mated pair living in the park across the street from my home.

Australian king parrot, male

This is an Eastern yellow robin. These are fairly common, but tricky to photograph as they flit about a lot, and don’t sit in one spot very long. I have a few photos of these guys, but this might be the best shot I’ve achieved.

Eastern yellow robin

And finally, back at the water, were some little pied cormorants. These are pretty common and easy to photograph. I often see some around the harbour shore close to my home.

Little pied cormorant

After completing my bird trek, I drove to Broomfields Pies, a place I’d found by searching for pie shops, seeking a new meat pie experience for lunch. The place had a high Google reviews rating, and the menu on the website looked very intriguing. I was hungry after my walk and looking forward to it, but when I got there I found the place was in the middle of an industrial park, and it was just a wholesale bakery without any retail shopfront. The front door was locked, despite it being the middle of the day, and nobody answered the door buzzer. It looks like I have a habit of driving to places in industrial parks that aren’t open.

So instead I hopped back in the car and drove a few suburbs over to another pie place that I’d been to just once before, and wanted to go back to. I had a satay chicken and a Mexican beef pie – they were good!

This afternoon I spent going through my bird photos, processing, uploading, and entering them into my bird photo database, punctuated by taking Scully to the dog park for some exercise.

New content today:

Sore legs

My legs are so sore today after yesterday’s run. I clearly need to do more to get used to it.

Today was a writing day. I spent about 10 hours writing the next entry for 100 Proofs that the Earth is a Globe.

That’s about it…

New content today:

5k run

Daylight saving started here in Sydney on the weekend, and today was the first day back at work for my wife after the long weekend, so we got up early today. I decided to take advantage of the cool morning to go for a 5 km run. I don’t normally do running/jogging, so this was unusual and I did a mix of jog-sprints and walking in between to regather my breath. But importantly I walked up the hill to the nearest sports oval and then did laps, so I was on flat ground rather than running up and down the hills that are endemic in this area. I completed 5 km in about 32 minutes, which I guess is pretty slow, but it’s definitely faster than my walking pace. Let’s see if I manage to do this again and make it a habit.

After completing the run, I walked to the hardware store to get some plant fertiliser. We recently got a dwarf Tahitian lime, a chilli plant, and a basil plant to grow on the balcony, and figured we should get some fertiliser to help them grow. I got some citrus fertiliser and tomato/herb fertiliser, which says it’s also good for capsicums (green/red peppers in non-Australian English), so I suppose that works for chillis. Interestingly, the two different fertilisers contain different mixtures of coloured pellets – I presume they make a bunch of different colours that have different nutrients in them, and mix them in different proportions to formulate the mixes for different types of plants.

Osmocote citrus, and herbs

The lime tree appears to be growing some tiny limes already. It flowered a few weeks ago, and the flowers have dropped the petals and are swelling at the bases into what look like baby limes:

Dwarf Tahitian lime

I wasn’t expecting a crop of limes for at least a year or two, but if we got some this summer that’d be awesome!

Oh, I also tried to buy a window squeegee with a slightly longer handle than the one I have at home, to make it easier to clean the outsides of our windows from the inside. However all the squeegees at the hardware store either had 250 mm handles (like the one I already own), or 1.8 metres! I want maybe a 400 mm handle, but there was nothing in between.

New content today: