First heatwave of … spring

Today was all about the weather. Specifically, the heat. The forecast for Sydney today was 36°C.

Actual top temperature was 40.8°C in the city, up to 43°C in some suburbs. (There is a reading fo 47.2°C in one location, but that seems odd and I’m not sure I believe it’s correct.) A handful of towns in western New South Wales broke their hottest November day records.

Tomorrow is expected to be even hotter, and tonight’s minimum temperature isn’t expected to go below 24°C in the city, and 27°C in some suburbs, which are expected to set their highest November minimum temperatures. And t’s still November, not even summer yet. And it’s been declared a full strength La Niña year – which is supposed to mean cooler and wetter conditions in eastern Australia. I’m not sure what to expect from the next El Niño, when we get hotter and drier climate conditions.

The one saving grace today was that it was low humidity. This heat is caused by a huge hot air mass over the central Australian deserts, being brought to the east coast by westerly winds, so it’s very dry. Parts of central Australia were getting temperatures around 47°C yesterday and today. These temperatures also bring dry lightning, which is a danger for setting bushfires. This time last year those immense bushfires were already going, and Sydney was already choking on thick smoke for several days in a row. We haven’t had any big fires yet this season.

There is a cool change on the way, expected to blow up from the south tomorrow around 5pm. They’re saying at that time temperatures will drop 20 degrees or more in less than an hour, from about 40°C to 20°C. I’ll be looking forward to it.

I spent most of the day holed up inside with the air conditioning on. I had to brave the heat a few times to take Scully out.

About 11 o’clock my wife decided she wanted to walk up to the shops to pick up something from the tailor. A few minutes after she left, Scully indicated she wanted to go out. I grabbed the little pile of stuff we have by the door, consisting of a small pouch with doggie poop bags and some dried chicken treats, a leash, and a small ring with just the minimal two basic keys needed to enter our apartment. I shut the door behind me, went to put the pouch and the keys into my pocket… and I noticed the keys weren’t there. My wife had taken the small set of keys to the shops with her, instead of her normal keys!

I had to take Scully out, into the daytime heat. Then after she toileted we came back and stopped at the front door for a minute. I figured my wife would only be about 20 minutes, so we’d just have to wait. I hadn’t even brought my phone or wallet – I had nothing but the poop bags.

After a few minutes I decided it was too hot and at least I could buzz a neighbour on the intercom to let us into the building. The first one I tried – immediately next door where Scully’s friend Luna lives – they weren’t home. I was going to try another neighbour when some people approached. They were visiting another neighbour on our floor, so when they buzzed to get in, I followed. I sat in the relatively cool foyer with Scully. She was a bit mystified as to why we weren’t going home, and I gave her a few of the chicken treats while we waited.

Fortunately my wife had not decided to stop at a cafe and have a coffee and a slice of cake or whatever, but returned home pretty quickly. She arrived after we’d been waiting in the lobby maybe 10 minutes.

This afternoon we watched the final episode of The Queen’s Gambit. Excellent show, we really enjoyed it, and it was a fitting ending. It’s weird to think of a fictional universe in which Dudley Dursley grows up and sleeps with Beth Harmon. (I didn’t realise the same actor appeared in both roles until a friend mentioned it yesterday.)

New content today:

My personal summer

Today I began my usual summer ritual of switching to cold showers. Yesterday I had my last warm shower for the next few months, barring unusual circumstances. I do this every year, usually some time in November, switching to cold showers for the summer. I usually reach the end of March before going back to warm showers; sometimes a week or two into April, depending on the weather as it cools down into autumn.

The weather here has really started to warm up in the past week or so. More than that, it’s gotten humid. Last year it didn’t really get humid until about February – the early summer was very hot and very dry, which of course led to those awful fires we had. But the switch to a La Niña pattern in the Pacific has brought a cooler, moister trend to eastern Australia. So hopefully a lot milder fire season, although the problem this summer may be storms and flooding.

Today was a relaxing Sunday mostly. My wife and I took Scully on a long walk this morning before it got too hot. We stopped at the bakery to buy some bread, getting a white sourdough load, and also a fig and walnut sourdough loaf for a sweet treat. My wife wanted to get some challah, but I remembered when we arrived and didn’t see any that they only bake that late in the morning, so it’s only available after about 11 am. So I chose the fig and walnut loaf instead.

Both loaves were still hot from the oven, and even after walking all the way home (over 2 kilometres), the fig and walnut loaf was still deliciously warm as we cut it open and had some simply spread with melty butter.

My wife and I played a couple of games of Codenames Duet, continuing our campaign after a bit of a break. We successfully completed the Bogota city game, but failed with a first attempt at Dubai.

And finally this afternoon we had Luna from next door over to play with Scully for a while. It’s a bit weird having another dog around. Even though they look somewhat similar, I feel like Scully is very familiar and I know her personality very well, and she’s almost like a little person. Whereas Luna just feels like a dog and is somewhat unpredictable. She’s also very face-licky – you need to be on your guard unless you suddenly want Luna to run up and lick you all over the face. Scully doesn’t do that, thankfully!

New content today:

Post-market stocktake

I mostly relaxed today, taking things a bit easy after the hectic day at the market yesterday. I did have to do a stocktake of how many greeting cards and matted prints I have left, so I could update my stock levels on Etsy – to make sure I don’t sell something that I’d need to then order from the printer, thus taking an extra week or two to ship the item. Then I had to pack all the stock and ancillary equipment (easels, folding table and chair, display crates, miscellaneous bits and pieces) in the garage, out of the way until the next market day.

And I went to the post office to mail off an Etsy order to a buyer in the UK. I hope it gets to them in time for Christmas!

What else did I do…? Oh, some housecleaning. Cleaned the bathtub properly, which I haven’t done for ages.

Oh that’s right… I was also a bit lazy because of the weather, which was stiflingly warm and humid all day. The temperature hovered around 30°C most of the day, but a strong westerly wind came in around 3:30 pm, blowing hot air in from the desert, and that pushed temperatures up to 36.5°C on the coast, but as high as 41°C in Sydney’s inland suburbs. This was the hottest November day for five years.

I took Scully out to the dog park at that time, not realising it was going to get even hotter that late in the afternoon. She was very lazy in the heat, and only did a few half-hearted ball chases and then our regular walk down to the waterside and back, before deciding she’d had enough and she took off back to the car to wait for me. She does that when she’s ready to go home. I’m still chatting with the other dog owners, and all the dogs are playing and whatever on the grass, but Scully is sitting up by the road next to the car waiting for me!

New content today:

And a soggy Monday too

It rained all night, and much of today too, clearing up a little towards late afternoon. While it rained a lot, I didn’t think it was particularly wild weather. But the evening news tonight had stories about flash flooding, trees blown over, and damage to structures across various parts of Sydney. It must have been localised and we missed the worst of it near my place.

And it was really cold again, the temperature rising to 16.2°C only for a brief period in the morning before dropping back to around 14°C for most of the day. When I took Scully out to the dog park during a lull in the rain this afternoon, I underestimated the cold and didn’t dress warmly enough, and I was pretty frozen by the time we got home.

This is the sort of weather we can expect with the onset of La Niña – colder and wetter conditions for eastern Australia. Already Warragamba Dam – Sydney’s main water supply – is full, and the water authorities have started releasing water to avoid potential large volume releases in the near future that would cause flooding in several outer Sydney suburbs downstream.

You might imagine this rain is good, with us coming out of a long drought. But it’s hit farmers in rural regions at exactly the wrong time. They were just about ready to harvest spring crops, and expecting a bumper crop, when this rain arrived and has ruined many crops and made harvesting impossible because of the sodden land. So we may be in for a grain shortfall in the next few months.

New content today:

Soggy Sunday

The rainy weather well and truly set in today. And it was really cold. The forecast maximum was 17°C for Sydney, but it only reached a maximum temperature of 14.7°C… at 08:21 this morning. The temperature has been dropping from there all day, as the rain built up and became a steady heavy pour this afternoon.

We took Scully out for a walk early this morning, in a period where we only had to put up with a light sprinkle. Apart from that, it was really a day to huddle inside. Since we didn’t want to exercise Scully outside in the pouring rain, we invited her poodle friend Luna over from next door, and the two of them had a rough and tumble play inside.

I worked on some comics stuff, making sure I have a buffer to cover a trip away next weekend. And that was about it.

New content today:

Stormy Saturday

Saturday began with a sleep-in, after last night’s games night ended quite late.

It rained during the night – nay stormed. I was woken by thunder around 2am. The rain had cleared by morning though, and the morning was intermittent light showers, but the forecast warned of heavy rain developing throughout the day, culminating in more storms tonight.

I took Scully out at lunch time while my wife had some appointments, but I didn’t want to walk too far in case we got heavy rain while we were out. So I drove over to a nearby suburb and the Italian bakery that we go to sometimes (it’s a longer walk than our other bakery), where I got some lunch. Italians are not known for meat pies, but being a bakery in Australia means you tend to adapt, and these guys have done a great job coming up with a chicken pie. Most places just chop up chicken meat and cook it in a sauce, but I believe this bakery must roast their chicken, before deboning and pulling it to pieces and then making a sauce around the already roasted chicken, with lots of vegetable chunks. It’s like a delicious chicken casserole in a pastry case.

And being an Italian bakery, they do a baked ricotta cheesecake, which is to die for. The ricotta filling is whipped and light and creamy. Truly excellent stuff.

After eating these treats on a bench nearby, Scully and I took to the car again and went over to the home centre where the pet shop is. I needed to buy her some more canine toothpaste. We try to brush her teeth every day, to protect them from decay.

This afternoon, with heavy rain falling outside, my wife and I played another Codenames Duet, finally conquering Baghdad in the campaign. We played a flawless game, and it was most satisfying.

New content today:

Those thunderstorms

If you recall yesterday, my market stall day was cancelled due to forecast storms today.

It did rain a little overnight, but lightly, and it had stopped by the time I got up this morning. It remained dry… all day until around 5pm. The sun even came out for extended periods. When the rain finally came, it was about 5 minutes of light spattering, and then it stopped. There were actually thunderstorms in parts of Sydney, but very localised, and not until after 4pm. So basically the forecast storms during the market day didn’t eventuate at all, as we all would have been packed up and leaving before 4pm.

Oh well… I can’t blame the market organisers. They had to work with the forecast they had. It is another case of what’s become a common occurrence here though – the Weather Bureau forecasts rain, and pretty much nothing eventuates. We have had a little rain in recent months, but not a lot. Grass in parks is starting to die off and go brown all over the place. Just looking up the stats, so far we’ve had 6mm of rain in the first 18 days of October, while the monthly average is 77mm. In September we had 23mm, while the average is 68mm. In August we had 79, with the average being 81, so that was close to normal, but since August it’s been noticeably dry. And this in a spring which the Weather Bureau had predicted would be wetter than normal due to La Niña.

Instead of the market, I mostly spent the day at home, just going out with Scully a few times. For lunch I made bruschetta:

Bruschetta

Chopped tomato, garlic, basil, mixed together and spooned on toasted wholemeal sourdough bread drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, then topped with salt, black pepper, and caramelised balsamic vinegar. I enjoy a simple tomato sandwich, and this is like the grand royal version. Yum!

New content today:

Feels like summer’s here

It was warm and summery today, temperatures reaching up to 34°C in parts of Sydney, although near the coast it was cooler with the sea breeze. It’s supposed to be hotter tomorrow, and then a cold front will come through, dropping temperatures back to around 20°C from Tuesday.

Being a long weekend, with a public holiday tomorrow, a lot of people took advantage of the warm weather by heading to the beach, or out on the harbour on boats. I went to a family lunch at my wife’s mother’s place, which is near a small harbour beach, and the traffic was horrendous, and parking near her house was non-existent. We had to park a few hundred metres away up a hill.

Before leaving for the lunch, we took Scully on a walk, doing our usual weekend loop to the bakery and back, but we took the variant route home through a bushwalk along the shore. This is actually my preferred route, but we’ve been avoiding it for the past several weeks because the local council laid fox baits to kill feral foxes in the bushland, and they’re deadly to dogs, so they advise not letting dogs into the area for about 6 weeks.

Yesterday I baked brownies to take to the family lunch, but they’re devilishly difficult to time correctly, so the centres stay soft and gooey, but the exteriors are firm enough to support the brownies when sliced. Last time we made them it turned out like a dense firm cake, with none of the delicious gooey centres. This time I took it out of the oven and let it cool, and then tried to slice it, but the centre of the baking pan wasn’t solid enough to be sliced. Fortunately the bits around the edge were pretty good, so we got a decent batch out of it. And the sloppy mess in the middle I saved to heat up and add vanilla ice cream to for dessert at home.

The other thing that happened is we went onto daylight saving time last night. I love daylight saving, with long warm evenings of light so you can do things outdoors until about 8 pm. But it means now my webcomics are updating apparently an hour later for me, which places them perilously close to bedtime. I’m thinking seriously of moving the update time an hour earlier, so I can check and write about the comics before it gets too late in the evening. In fact, maybe even a couple of hours earlier. Then I won’t have to hang around online checking things as late in the evening any more. I’ll have a bit more of a think about this tomorrow.

New content today:

Finland ISO meeting, day 5

Today was the last day of my virtual standards meeting. So although it was Saturday I had to get up at 6:30 and have breakfast before starting the meeting at 7. It was all closing administrative stuff today, like going over action items and deciding stuff about the next meeting. Since we’ve only been doing these virtual meetings for a short time, the process is still being refined, and we decided to have a short pre-meeting a week before the next meeting to finalise the agenda, so we don’t end up with what happened this time, having an hour gap in the middle of a session due to someone’s presentations being short, and being unable to move the following session up because people were planning to dial in at a specific time for it. Hopefully that will make things easier for everyone next time.

It was really cold today, with a strong cold front system moving through the region, bringing bone-chilling winds. The front arrived yesterday evening, with a bit of rain. The leading edge of it hit while I was at the dog park with Scully, causing this:

Rainbow storm over Sydney

Rather than go for a big walk with Scully today in the wintry conditions, we were lazy and just did a short walk up to a nearby railway station to get some pies for lunch.

When I got home, I was going through the pantry and I found a leftover packet of bread mix, from when I was doing baking a few months ago during the COVID lockdown. So I decided to bake some fresh bread this afternoon.

Lockdown baking

And now that we’re out of mix, I might buy some more, actually. It’s pretty easy to make, and really delicious.

Also this afternoon, I played some Codenames Duet with my wife, and we won the Madrid campaign game. That’s 9 out of 26 missions completed! Oh, and I also completed making that latest batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips that I’ve bene working on for the past week while not doing ISO standards meetings.

New content today:

Warm equinox

It was unseasonally warm again today. Not only was the forecast maximum 30°C, but for much of the day the hourly forecast said it would still be 28°C at midnight! Also, we’re expecting a late evening storm, so the humidity will be very high. As it turned out, we only reached 29°, and the midnight forecast is now down to 20°. That’s still fairly warm for overnight though.

I did my 5k run as early as I could to avoid the heat of the day, but I had to stay home until the annual mandatory fire inspection was done, so didn’t leave until almost 9am, by which time it was getting warm already. I didn’t run a very good time – I’m going to claim because of the heat.

Didn’t do much else, except make some comics and take Scully for a play and walk at the dog park.

New content today: