Today dawned cloudy and chilly and a bit rainy. I did some comic work, but also took some time to continue a photography project I started back on Monday.
There’s a street in a suburb not far from me which is lined with jacaranda trees. Every year in late spring, basically November, the trees flower, and the location becomes a fantastic wonderland of purple flowers creating a tunnel around the street. In the past few years it’s become Instagram famous and has attracted large numbers of tourists. They want to take photos standing on the street – which of course is a hazard as the locals use it to drive on. This has become such an issue that the council has stuck warning signs on the footpaths:
Anyway, jacaranda flowering season is just in the very earliest stages right now. And given COVID, there are no tourists in Sydney at the moment. So this is the perfect opportunity to take photos of the flowering without the photos being full of tourists.
My plan is to go down to the street at least a couple of times a week, to make sure I’m keeping track of the flowering progress. And so this way I can be sure to catch and capture it at the peak. During the peak, I might try to go down there every day and take photos.
I went down on Monday, and the street looked like this:
It doesn’t look like much yet. There’s just a faint hint of the earliest purple flower buds coming out. I went down again today:
Not much change. But stay tuned as I keep this up, because this street is going to transform into something absolutely magical within the next few weeks.
It was almost a lazy Sunday. Except for my wife rousing me to go with her and Scully for a walk this morning. We did our usual weekend circuit, around to our favourite local bakery and back via the marina and Berry Island. It’s about 4.5 km, a good solid walk. Scully was still a bit tired after yesterday’s big day out, so she slept a lot of this afternoon.
I made a comic, but mostly I worked on processing some old photos from our trip to Tasmania in 2000. I have a bunch of photos taken in King Solomon’s Cave in Mole Creek Karst National Park.
Oh, and I wrote up a new Snot Block & Roll review from yesterday, plus an older one that I’d had waiting for a few months.
Today I went on a Saturday outing with my wife and Scully. We walked down to Greenwich Point wharf, which is a decent walk in itself from our place.
From here we caught a ferry across the harbour to Balmain, home of many Victorian era terrace houses.
We walked up and down the main street, checking out food places and shops, and grabbing a few little bites to eat here and there to make up an overall lunch. The Balmain Post Office is an interesting structure, built in 1886-7. The writing on it still proclaims it to be the “Post and Telegraph Office”.
There are also old sandstone churches. The St Andrew’s Congregational Church, 1854 (with Scully):
And the Campbell Street Presbyterian Church, 1867:
After a few hours of enjoying the warm spring sunshine and visiting a suburb we don’t go to very much, we headed back home on the ferry.
This afternoon my wife and I played a few games of Codenames Duet, and finally completed the 11th city in our campaign. Sydney, as it happened. 😀
I had a busy day today, working on setting up an Etsy shop to sell greeting cards featuring my photography. I started by creating an account, then setting up a store, and adding some products. It turned out to be really easy to add and edit products – the user interface is much nicer than the one in WooCommerce that I use for my own photography website.
I finished adding a bunch of products, and hit the “next” button for setting up a store, expecting to have a few more configuration options to set up before finalising things, but Etsy immediately told me that my store was now live! That was a bit surprising, but at least it prompted me to finish the rest of the site customisation quickly!
On Wednesday I did a big photo walk through Sydney. So big that when I got home I spent the rest of the day processing the photos – and by the time I was done it was much later than I realised and I just crawled into bed without posting about it.
A sneak preview panorama taken at the University of Sydney:
This morning, I intended to spend a quick few minutes cleaning up an old photo or two, scanned from prints that I’d taken on a camping trip back in 1993. Before I knew it, I’d spent most of the morning cleaning up and colour adjusting a dozen or so photos.
This is the Newnes Hotel, built in 1907, as a pub and general store for the small mining settlement of Newnes, in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. They mined oil shale there, but the mine was closed in 1932. Now the hotel operates as a general store and visitor information centre for bushwalkers and campers, since the area is remote and surrounded by the Wollemi National Park. There some abandoned runs of the town that you can visit.
For lunch today I took a long walk a couple of suburbs over to an Italian bakery – another one of our favourite bakeries in the area! I got a chicken pie for lunch, and a chocolate cannoli for a sweet treat. They also do vanilla cannolis and ricotta cannolis, and they’re all good.
I took a slightly roundabout route home to get some more walking done, and I stopped at an upmarket grocery store near the bakery to buy some fancy imported pasta from Italy. Local pasta is fine, but the imported Italian stuff has a different texture to it, and is really nice, so it’s worth an extra dollar or two now and then.
While in there, I noticed they had packets of sourdough crumpets reduced to sell as they were approaching their use-by date. Normally these crumpets are $7 for a pack of four(!), but they were reduced to $4.90. Still over a dollar a crumpet, but I decided I could splurge and try them to see how good they were. Regular crumpets from my usual supermarket cost $1.85 for a pack of six, or under 31 cents each. The normal price for these sourdough crumpets is $1.75 each, almost six times as much. That’s really quite insane. Even at the reduced price, they’re over four times as expensive as normal crumpets.
Anyway, I tried one when I got home, and they are actually very nice. But not over $1 a crumpet nice.
Yeah, the title pretty much sums it up. Vacuum cleaning, washing up, laundry (my wife did that), changing bedsheets, cleaning the bath, cleaning Scully (haha – we gave her a bath). And for dinner I made risotto, which is 15 minutes of prep followed by a solid half hour slaving over the stove, constantly stirring.
It was pumpkin risotto, with toasted pine nuts and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.
I make risotto a bit – it’s not hard, but it is time and effort intensive. Today’s one turned out very nice. We had a bottle of white wine open, so I added a splash, which you should do, but it’s rare that we have a bottle open, so I usually don’t. The real Reggiano cheese from Italy makes a difference too. I bought that recently to replace the Australian brand of parmesan that we usually buy.
Oh! One other thing I did today. I’ve been meaning for a while to try to take some photos of Scully running towards the camera, using my DSLR in AI Servo focus mode, so it tracks moving objects. So today I went out with my wife and Scully, and we found some grass where I could lie down and aim my camera at Scully while my wife tells her to sit and stay, and then walks over to where I was lying, and then calls Scully to come over. We used our special “cheese command word”. This is an emergency recall command, which we always reward with cheese, and it’s pretty much the only time she ever gets cheese, which she loves. So when she hears this word – “Schnell!” – we picked a German word so we never say it accidentally when talking – she comes absolutely running flat out towards us.
We repeated this exercise 4 times, and I took a bunch of photos rapid-fire. About half of them turned out blurry, but… we got a couple of very nice shots.
This morning I decided to bite the bullet and renew my passport. It expires next month, and I’ve had it on my desk for a couple of months to remind me to renew it, but of course with COVID and travel restrictions, it kind of dropped down my priorities list. Still, I decided today that I really should renew it before it expires, and so I filled out the forms online, printed out the PDF, and went up to the post office to have photos taken and submit the form. As part of the process, they cancelled my old passport, so I’m unable to leave the country now for about the next three weeks – not that I was going to anyway.
Since I was out, I went for a bit of a walk to get some fresh air and sunshine. And in the afternoon I walked up to my wife’s work, where’s she’s now working full time following an increase in her previously part-time hours. I had to pick up Scully, who goes to work with her, as the “office dog” – she even has a job title: “Wellbeing Officer (volunteer)”. I took her from the office to the dog park and we had a bit of a run around and did some ball chasing and meeting other dogs and so on.
In between, I spent much of the day processing some scans of old photos from a camping trip I did back in the 90s with some university friends.
We started up here at Kanangra Walls (the sandstone cliff formations) in Kanangra-Boyd National Park, west of Sydney. And we walked way down into the valley below and camped by the Kowmung River.
I haven’t been camping for a long time. I’d like to get out into the wilderness again some time.
Scully and I went for a long walk together this morning, while my wife had some things to do. We walked all the way out to Greenwich Baths, which is about 3 km from home, and then back again. ON the way I took this photo of the harbour from Manns Point Park:
As it happened, this is my 13,000th photo uploaded to Flickr. I’ve been a member for about 13 years, so that’s pretty close to 1000 photos a year.
This afternoon we all went for a drive, and we passed a nice looking bakery, which we decided to stop at and see what they had, on the way to my mother-in-law’s place for afternoon tea. It turned out to be a patisserie type bakery, as opposed to a boulangerie type bakery. The French have the right idea with two different words for these two things. Unfortunately here in English they’re both labelled as “bakeries”, and there’s no way to tell if a random bakery that you go to will sell bread, or cakes, or both, or one and not the other, or what.
Anyway, they had some lovely looking lemon meringue tarts and salted caramel tarts, and we got some to take over for the afternoon tea. We ended up spending most of the afternoon there. It was a lovely afternoon, sunny and warm in the sunshine, although slightly cool in the shade.
I had my return visit with the dentist first thing this morning. He fixed up the chipped filling that he’d noticed on Tuesday. The past few times I’ve had work done, the anaesthetic took a long time to work and he ended up putting a second needle in, but today thankfully it worked pretty quickly and I didn’t need a second needle. Which meant it wore off after only about 4 hours, compared to last time where my mouth was still numb for something like 6 or 7 hours afterwards.
In conversation, I mentioned to my dentist that I was selling photographic prints, and I could get one made for his waiting room if he wanted. He said he was actually thinking of renovating the waiting room, and looked at my photography website on the computer screen, and said he liked Australian landscapes. So if I don’t hear from him soon I’ll follow up and see if I can get one of my prints in his waiting room, with some of my business cards on the desk.
In other photography news, a few days ago the producer of PBS Eons contacted me to ask for permission to use one of my photos in their latest episode. Since these episodes get 0.5 to 2 million views on YouTube, I gave them permission, and the episode came out today. You can watch it on YouTube here, or with the embedded version below:
My photo is the one used to show the drawing of the giant kangaroo Procoptodon goliah, from about 4:42 onwards.
And while on videos, in other news a friend of mine is working on designing original games that will be included in the new VR board game platform Hands on Deck, currently under development. His original game Neapolitan is planned for inclusion in the first release, and can be seen in this video (the first game shown).