Month: April 2011

Victorian Cake-A-Thon Part 2: Old Beechy Rail Trail

Despite getting no sleep due to the generator, this was a brilliant day. Got to Beech Forest and started off down the rail trail but parts of it were closed due to logging, and the alternative meant trying to cycle along a really rough, stony surface.

At the start, before the track turned to rubble

Giving up after 6km (Neil’s idea – I didn’t whinge once) and returning to Beech Forest- uphill – we discovered the Ridge Café.  All my birthdays come at once: a warm day, sunshine, blue sky, sitting on a terrace overlooking endless forest with clouds still in the folds of the hills.  Plus ginormous cakes.

Neil's got his 'you're going to be sorry' face on again

Neil had the apple and cardamom and mine was the tiramisu.  I couldn’t finish mine, which was a first.

At that point, I could have slid under the table and had a snooze but we drove off to Gellibrand, part way along the trail, to see if it was a bit more navigable there.  Had a great ride through beautiful gum forest to I don’t know where but it was right at the top of another huge hill.

How did they get a train up here??

I’d metabolised the cake by this time so we turned round and had the most fantastic cycle back to the car – bombing downhill at scary speeds and completely wild.

Sometimes you really need to do stuff like that to remember that there’s more to life than financial services (and cake).


From Tent to Georges V in 25 Years (if I’m lucky)

Went down the Great Ocean Road today to revisit the 12 Apostles.  Last saw them 12 years ago and things have changed a bit ie a visitors’ centre and millions of people.   Instead we went off and found Moonlight Head and Wreck Beach.  They were both great – the beach had 366 steps to get back up (I counted).  The sea was fantastic – blue/green with pounding white waves so we sat on the sand and watched it for a while.

Not sure how I’ve allowed this to happen again but we’re staying in a really crappy motel  in Laver’s Hill.  In Australia, it’s taken me years to coax Neil out of the tent (‘but it’s cheap’ he wailed) and up to the Golden Chain Motels level of ordinariness via countless dregsville dumps.

Can’t help thinking of Kathryn staying in Canberra in her ‘usual room’ at the Hyatt with the marble bathroom and I’m in the middle of nowhere in a prefab hut being overpowered by noxious air freshner and the noise from a generator outside going non-stop for the refrigerators at the drive-thru bottle shop.

Had a bit of a breakthrough last year in France after Neil realised that his el cheapo Formule 1 room in Toulouse didn’t have an ensuite and someone had peed all over the seat of the shared loo. I pointed out that for not much more we could upgrade to an Ibis where this problem wouldn’t exist. After a lot of humming and hawing, I got my way and Ibis excelled themselves that first night – an enormous room, huge TV, 5th floor, minibar, right on the main street with a balcony and those pretty French louvre shutters.

The next day we went off to cycle the Canal du Midi returning to the same Ibis a week later.  Unfortunately this time they put us in a very small room that didn’t have a window – there was a window-shaped opening onto some sort of air shaft but it wasn’t actually a window (the French excel at this sort of thing). But a precedent had been set.  I’ve now got him up to Logis de France (2 star decent small French hotels) when there is no Ibis available.  No more Formule 1 thank God.

I’m never going to get to stay at the Georges V at this rate though.

Next part of the strategy, (advance prep for the Georges V) is to get Neil to change his rucksack for a suitcase.

Hoteliers loathe people with rucksacks.  I can see their point.  Especially if they come with a small Scotsman attached who’s loathe to spend any money in their establishment.

Victorian Cake-A-Thon Part 1

We’ve driven down to Ballarat in Victoria for the Easter break to take advantage of some of the rail trails as NSW doesn’t really do these.  Arrived on Easter Friday evening to bitter cold after leaving Sydney wearing shorts and t-shirts.

There is only 1 cycling rule:  All Cycle Routes Must Incorporate a Café Or I’m Not Going.

So on Saturday we cycled to Learmonth, home of the wonderful 3-2-1 café.

Except it was shut.

Cakeless in Learmonth

50km round trip and it’s shut.  Completely knackered and starving by the time we got back to Ballarat.

Sunday was a bit warmer and we did Ballarat to Buninyip. It’s only 9km but we managed to make it over 40km through not taking a map and getting lost a lot. The café was worth it – great coffee and stonking cakes.  You get to sit outside and they have rugs to put over your legs to keep the cold off.  Brilliant!

Post-cake delirium in Buninyip

Monday we cycled off to Ballan without a map, water or food.  I hadn’t had much breakfast so all the way I was fantasising about what I was going to STUFF myself with when I got to Ballan.

After 40km, we arrived and I arthritically unpeeled myself from my bike and crawled into the Red House Café.  A sign outside said ‘coffee, scones, books’.  How perfect is that?  Really good coffee, fab upside down raspberry polenta cake, lovely people plus a bookshop. It was absolutely the best and worth every cursed km.

A cake too far - Red House Cafe in Ballan

Neil’s got that look on his face which says ‘you’re going to regret that 2nd piece of cake’.  I did.

Tomorrow we’re driving to the Great Ocean Road.  Anything but sit on a bike.

100 Pressups Challenge – Day 2

I did a Pump class on Sunday for the first time in ages and have been creaking around in agony ever since, so the last thing I wanted to do tonight was the wretched push ups.  I did them but the situps challenge will have to wait till tomorrow.

It was another set of 6, 6, 4, 4, then however many I could do, with a minute in between each set.  I had our sole functioning clock with a second hand with me so I could time it properly this time.

It all went ok surprisingly.   And I managed to do 10 at the end so that’s a definite improvement.  Then did another 10 because Neil couldn’t get his new camera to work properly.  That’s 40 pushups.  Here’s the apres shot.

The relief is obvious

Still not bending the arms to 90 degrees like Neil says I should.  Realised that even with everything sucked in, bits of me still hit the ground well before the 90 degree point.  The concern is that if it all gets onto the carpet I’ll never get it back up again.  My arms couldn’t cope.

There’s obviously more technique to this than meets the eye.  Will have to have a think about how I can improve.

Tutored Wine Tasting at Vintage Blue

Cycled home from work yesterday and Neil said I was noticeably slower.  I had been at a wine tasting at Vintage Blue Wines on Thursday so was feeling a little bit fragile.  We didn’t have that much to drink (did we?) but I don’t cope very well with mixing white and red.  Or possibly I just get trolleyed  on not very much wine.  That’s probably more like it.

Dave Hanna, the owner,  tutored us through a great selection of 10 wines. The running order:

  • Henri Giraud ‘Esprit’ Champagne NV
  • Salomon Gruner Veltliner ‘Wieden & Berg’ 2009
  • Collestefano Verdicchio 2009
  • Fromm ‘Clayvin’ Chardonnay 2004
  • Domaine Lucci Pinot Noir 2010
  • DJP Petalos Mencia 2008
  • Margan White Label Aged Shiraz 2006
  • Chateau Dauzac Margaux 2001
  • Crawford River Cabernet 2000
  • Balnaves Cabernet Merlot 1999

Dustin tweeted his comments on Wine We Drink.

As well as organising the whole thing, Michael provided the cheeses and nibbles. He had made a smoked salmon and dill dip to accompany the champagne, some memorable zucchini fritters with a mint yoghurt and some fabulous cheeses (a goat camembert really stood out).

Loved the champagne and the Mencia, and also enjoyed the Gruner Veltliner with the goat’s cheese.  My favourite though was the Margan shiraz  – Andrew Margan is the Jon Bon Jovi of wine makers.  Will be heading up to the Hunter to visit the winery if I can persuade Neil to unlock his sporran.

It was a really special evening after a long week at work – memorable for being able to try such a variety of good wines, great food and with great company.

Thanks to Rick and his magic tea towel when I managed to spill wine down my front.  I’m always looking for novel ways to  humiliate myself – that was number 452.

Week 8 – Saturday – Day 1 of the 100 Pushups Challenge

The One Hundred Pushups Challenge gets you to a point over 6 weeks where you can do 100 consecutive pushups.  The schedule is 3 sessions a week so mine are on Saturdays,  Tuesdays and Thursdays.  I’m doing the ones on the toes rather than the knees, just because I like to make life really difficult for myself.

Each session has 5 sets of pushups with a minute in between for recovery. Today was 2 sets of 6, 2 sets of 4 and the final set was as many as you can manage – I got to 6.

Only 99 to go...

After the 1st round I got fed up waiting for the recovery minute to pass and would have started too early but Neil said it might be better to wait.  He was right – the second lot of 6 were definately a bit wobbly and the other sets turned into a rapid, progressive loss of control.

There’s an awful moment just after you start the pushup when you realise how much weight your arms and back are going to have to support.  You feel how feeble your arms are and how they’re the only things preventing an undignified impact, nose-first with the floor.  Neil videoed it and it was pretty ugly.  My arms had sussed it out and didn’t want to bend at all so there was a fair bit of derriere going up and down.

A pushup probably only lasts about 5 seconds but in that space of time I came to bitterly regret all the cake/chocolate/alcohol I’d had over the past week.  This is A Good Thing – a wake up call to make me realise what my body goes through carting myself around all week.  It would be very grateful if I lost 10kg.

uh oh....

This was advanced wobbling on the last pushup. I was very glad to stop.

Overall that was 26 semi-reasonable-ish pushups.

So, as I was sitting around feeling rather smug, I thought, what’ll I do now?

Linda at Ping Heng had suggested doing the 200 Situps Challenge  after Easter but seeing as there’s no time like the present, I got started on that as well.

I’d put myself in the middle category in terms of ability but it was too easy – I didn’t bother with the recovery periods, I just went through the whole thing.  I’ll switch to the difficult one on Tuesday.

In gratitude to my poor arms, we’re not having any Chateau Collapso tonight and Neil’s making his chicken bhuna curry – the healthiest evening we’ve had for a while.

I don’t know why but the foot is still sore despite all the stretching, wheat bags and massage.  I’ll have to go back to the physio or maybe it just takes a while to settle down.  A bit fed up with it all but at least I’ve got other things to focus on while it sorts itself out.  Tomorrow is Pump and then yoga with a different instructor.  Hopefully a bit more serene than the last yoga class.

Sore Foot Update

Foot is still not right after Sunday’s 30 minute run so I’ve decided to give it a rest until Easter otherwise it’s not going to settle down. In the meantime I’ve found other ways to maintain the fitness I’ve got from the running.

1.   Cycling

Cycled home from work again yesterday and overtook 2 people on the spiral onto the Anzac bridge – the effort brought on a mild bout of asthma which I haven’t had for years.

Neil thoughtfully noted that exercise-induced asthma generally needs some exercise to happen in order to kick it off.  I pointed out that his position as Team Captain was not tenured and he could be replaced at any time.

2.  Push Ups

I’m starting the 100 consecutive pushups program where you go from weak, girly, completely useless arms to being able to hang small children off your biceps in a little over 6 weeks.

On similar lines to I-can’t-imagine-being-able-to-run-more-than-3-minutes-without-dying, I can’t imagine being able to do 100 pressups in one go.  But other people have done it so there’s no reason I can’t.  And unlike running, there’s less bits of me to go wrong with pushups.

3. Yoga

I’m going to give this another go but at a different Fitness First gym with a different instructor (they can’t all be complete nutters can they?) or I’ll try the Bodybalance classes.

So, onward and upward.  I do miss the running though – who’d have thought??