Sunday, December 28, 2008

Wild Oats XI takes the Sydney Hobart again

The 30 metre maxi, Wild Oats XI won line honours for the fourth consecutive time in the Sydney - Hobart Yacht Race this morning. The race record stayed intact, with a quite civilised 9.34am finish at Castray Esplanade.

I went down to Alexandra Battery in Sandy Bay to take a few photos as they were in the home stretch. Katie and I then got down to just above the finish box as she was about to take the cannon.

Now we're off to the first day of the Taste Festival. Tis a good time to be in Hobart.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Terrible buildings of Hobart: #1: The Federation Concert Hall

Most cities these days try to present their best face to welcome visitors when they come in on the major road from that city's airport. Not Hobart.

As you drive along the first section of Davey Street, just after the Tasman Highway ends, this is the view with which you're faced:

Zero Davey, a residential development that somehow turned out to be a bit larger than what was originally approved, the Grand Chancellor Hotel (aka "Gray's Edifice"), which is simply a carbon copy of a hotel in Malaysia that the developers also own, and the crowning glory, the Federation Concert Hall, a building resembling a massive colorbond clad water tank, complete with dented panels and insulation hanging out of the joins. Apparently it's a "tribute" to an old gasometer that used to be on the site.

The Federation and its neighbours successfully block what could be a fantastic vista of Hobart's beautiful waterfront and Sullivans Cove district. I wanted to demonstrate to a friend what a shocking building it was, and lo and behold, I really couldn't find any proper pictures on google images, only ones put up by the Grand Chancellor and other tourist type sites that manage to shoot it from an angle that belies its inate hideousness.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Critical Mass' Victory in House of Lords

Police have no rights to block peaceful protests according to landmark ruling

Police have been told they have no power to control regular peaceful protests following a landmark ruling by the House of Lords.

Officers had warned cyclists gathering in London every month for the Critical Mass protest that they were liable for prosecution for failing to notify police.

However, the Law Lords ruled that since it was a regular protest with no specific organisers, it was not subject to controls.

The ruling will have an impact on similar gatherings around the country that face regulation by the police.

The Critical Mass protest has gathered in London every month for more than ten years. The colourful and often noisy gathering of up to 1,000 people began as a celebration of cycling but over the years has become a wider protest on environmental issues and against war.

However, the Metropolitan Police argued the protest was unlawful because no advance notice was given. They said the police needed prior notice of the ride's date, time and route and the names and addresses of the organisers in order to maintain public safety.

Critical Mass fought back, claiming that because the cycle rides are "commonly or customarily held" they are exempt from public order legislation.

Five law lords at the House of Lords agreed that the ride was a "customary procession". They said that since the protest is spontaneous and not organised by anyone it is not necessary to give the names of organisers or the route.

On the question of similar protests, the Lords said the legislation was not designed to restrict gatherings like Critical Mass.

Phil Michaels, the lawyer for Critical Mass, said it set a precedent for other types of protest that take place on a regular basis.

And following a crackdown on protests around the House of Commons in the wake of anti-terrorism laws, he said it had wider implications for free speech.

"This is a case in which the highest court in the land has upheld the right to protest peacefully and has said in essence that if those rights are to be curbed then it needs the clearest possible language from Parliament before that happens."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Today in Sullivan's Cove

The Sun Princess leaving Hobart at 11.30 this morning. The Diamond Princess (still docked) pushed off about 6pm. They're just floating motels really.

Bring back the QE2:

Click the images for full size.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Monday, December 08, 2008

Pigs become Pork

Well, the day of judgement finally arrived for young Ham, Sausage and Cha Xiu. Duncan took them off to the Cradoc Slaughterhouse Sunday a week ago, and on Friday night just gone, He, Katie and myself collected our sharpest knives and decamped to Tim's place for a night of home butchery.

Guided by Hugh Fearnley Whittstall's DVD 'Pig in a Day", his "Meat" cookbook, various webpages and a fair bit of blind luck (fuelled by Duncan's home brew) we managed to get oursleves a fair whack of lovely organic pork. By the end, the pigs came in at about 70Kg each, which meant hams of about 15Kg. You can work out the rest of it from there. needless to say, the frypan was working overtime cookin the scraps on Friday night. I've buried our ham
(as displayed here by the beautiful Katie) in about thirty kilos of salt. Gonna leave it there for a month, and then hang it in Mum & Dad's beautifully cool, yet sometimes drafty workshop for probably the best part of twelve months. We'll see what comes out of it then, eh? As for the rest of the product, it's bloody tasty, and well worth the effort involved. In fact, some Gordon's Knob Pork Neck was one of the primary ingredients in one of the dishes Mary served up to us at a sumptious Chinese dinner party hosted by Becher and herself on Saturday night. Yum yum.

BTW, Duncan and Jeannie (well, actually, Darcy the sow) are expecting another litter of young swine on about New Year's Day. Watch this space!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

0291125000 been bothering you?

Over the last week or so, this Sydney phone number has been calling my mobile approximately ten times a day. When I answer, the caller (or machine as it probably is) hangs up. I googled the number (as perhaps you, dear visitor have done), and it came up with the details of this company:

The Privacy Officer
AEGON Direct Marketing Services Australia Pty Ltd
PO Box H63
Australia Square NSW 1215
Tel: +61 2 8207 9007
Fax: +61 2 8207 9099

or try the MD:

Managing Director
Tel: +61 2 8207 9000

I spoke to Craig, and voiced my disdain for his company harrassing me. He took my details and said he would deal with it. If you're having similar problems, I suggest you drop him a line.

Apparently they are working for our good friends at the Commonwealth Bank. Perhaps try and lob a complaint at them as well. Good luck.

Friday, November 21, 2008

(Don't) Go Harvey Norman

THE retail king Gerry Harvey may have a personal fortune of about $1.6 billion but the Harvey Norman founder thinks donating to charity is "just wasted".

Asked in a new book about the role he and Harvey Norman play in the community, Mr Harvey said giving money to people who "are not putting anything back into the community" is like "helping a whole heap of no-hopers to survive for no good reason".

He said he believed in helping "develop people to their potential" because "when they achieve [their potential] they will put a lot more back into the community".

"You could go out and give a million dollars to a charity tomorrow to help the homeless. You could argue that it is just wasted. They are not putting anything back into the community.

"It might be a callous way of putting it but what are they doing? You are helping a whole heap of no-hopers to survive for no good reason. They are just a drag on the whole community.

"So did that million you gave them help? It helped to keep them alive but did it help our society? No. Society might have been better off without them but we are supposed to look after the disadvantaged and so we do it. But it doesn't help the society."

Mr Harvey added: "That is not to say we don't give money away to charities because we have given plenty away over the years. At the end of the day, the more quality individuals you develop in the community, the better off the community should be."

Earlier this year, Harvey Norman donated beds to a charity, Bridge Back to Life, that helps homeless men find rental accommodation.

The comments are in a new book, Master CEOs, by the Sydney funds manager Matthew Kidman.

Clare Martin, the chief executive of the Australian Council of Social Service, said: "I have really been impressed at corporate Australia and their real involvement in the wider community … and I always thought that Harvey Norman shared that as well.

"It does surprise me that Gerry Harvey, who's a very significant business figure, should not share the values of many other corporates."

In the interview, Mr Harvey also said that despite his wealth, "I still have a fear about going broke. I always think about it."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

'Ghost bike' memorial is vandalised
12 November 2008
Dobbin, with what remains of the ""ghost bike
Dobbin, with what remains of the ""ghost bike
HEARTLESS vandals have wrecked a "ghost bike" memorial marking the spot where a much-loved cyclist was killed.

Australian James Foster, 36, died in July 2003 when he was hit by a car as he left work at Mosquito Bikes cycle shop, in Essex Road, Islington.

James Foster
James Foster
The driver, who was over the limit, was already banned for a previous drink driving conviction.

In July this year Mr Foster's colleagues made a white skeleton bike out of spare parts and chained it outside the shop to mark the fifth anniversary of their friend's death.

But last month the tribute was vandalised.

Dobbin, 39, manager of Mosquito Bikes, said: "At first I couldn't believe it, then I thought 'I can believe it round here'. Islington is one of the worst places for getting your bike nicked. They nicked the stem, the handlebars and the front wheel but they were all old so they were useless.

"We had it outside the shop because that's where James was killed."

So-called "ghost bike" memorials originated in America but it was Mr Foster's death that was the inspiration for the website being set up in the UK. Identical tributes to other cyclists have since sprung up in Stoke Newington, Dalston, Brighton and Wales.

"We wanted to do a tribute to James," said Dobbin. "He was a nice guy, a great big Tasmanian guy with these red dreadlocks. He always had this big grin on his face. He was fun to be around.

"People get together every year on his anniversary and we ride from the shop down into Clerkenwell in a sort of cortege. Drivers have to slow down and think how dangerous cars can be."

In September Islington community campaigner Lisa Pontecorvo, of Thornhill Square, Barnsbury, was killed by a lorry as she wheeled her bike across Holloway Road, Holloway.

Dobbin said: "Usually its couriers who get knocked off and it's not reported. It's not that common. People think it's dangerous and the odds show it's not. It's just when things go wrong they really go wrong."

Sarn Baggett, a mechanic at Mosquito who built and painted Mr Foster's ghost bike, has vowed to repair it and has even gained permission from Islington Council to chain it up permanently in Essex Road.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Go go go Royal Hobart Show

In Hobart and southern Tasmania, the fourth Thursday in October sees the annual public holiday that is declared for the Royal Hobart Show (Show day is also traditionally the day to plant your summer tomato crop, and other horticultural products). Being dutiful southern Tasmanians, Katie and I trooped out to the showgrounds at Elwick with Caroline, Rob, Bea and Eddie for a bit of a taste of the fair.

For me, it brought back a heap of memories of childhood visits to the Show with Mum, Dad and Brent. back then, when Tasmania still had passenger trains, they used to run specials from the city out to the Showgrounds. Now, there's no special buses, but they do run the normal suburban service every thirty minutes. Integrated and innovative public transport, that's what we're on about folks!

We went through the cattle and goat pavillions, as well as the "Life on the farm" pavilion, which was filled with lots of touchable livestock and was a hit with the kids. Incidentally, sponsored by John Gay and the friendly folk at Gunns.

Speaking of woodchips, Katie and I wandered down the side of the showgrounds, via the Tasmanian Devil conservation stand,

and through to the woodchopping arena, where we watched a couple of heats of the big men doing battle with vertical logs. It was a great sight, watching these blokes sink their axes into the hardwood, managing to get through in just over twenty seconds. And these guys were the veterans!

After the excitment of the chopping, we made our way over to Sideshow Alley, where Katie had the pleasure of sinking five ping pong balls down a rotating clown's gob to win a lovely pair of fluffy dice.
And we got some hot American donuts, from the van that has had the same tape recording blaring from its speakers for at least the last 35 years. See them being made (link to crappy recording I made with my phone)!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Post Wedding Shindig in Hobart

Katie and I hosted an afternoon tea at our place yesterday as a bit of a Hobart celebration of our wedding, four weeks ago (pictures coming SOON!). It was a beaut day, I think 23 degrees was the temperature. Katie and Mum baked up several storms...the highlight had to be the debut of the 38-cupcake cupcake tree!

Much bubbly and Bonnington Brewery Pale Ale and Munich Lager was consumed in the sun, and beyond. Twas a fantastic day, and great to be surrounded by friends old (Mavis at 96) and new (Max at about five weeks), and lots more in between.

There's a few more pix (thanks to Jan for whipping off some photos) of proceedings sitting with Smugmug right here.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Nightclubs are hell.

I used to thank bouncers and door bitches for deciding I wasn't the quite in the demographic that they wanted to let into their nightclubs on the odd occasion I was dragged along after the pubs shut. Charlie Brooker in the Guardian verbalises my hatred of them like no one else has before.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Ich bin ein Hamburger

Or something like that. Our German mates gave us a Moulinex mincer as a wedding present. Tonight we had hamburgers made with mince we ground from round steak.

Bloody hell they were good.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

A quick scoot up the Valley

I scored a couple of glass fronted cabinets on Freecycle yesterday. Only problem was they were in Hamilton, about seventy Km away from Hobart, up the Derwent Valley. dad and I went up there this morning to collect. the furniture was half gone and rubbish, but it was a good excuse for a drive on a beautiful day. Grabbed a couple of great pies at the very friendly Platter Pie Cafe in Hamilton, and a refreshing ale and some cheap eggs at the Gretna Green pub.

There's no quick marriages on offer at Gretna Green in Tassie though. Which is cool, cos I'm already hitched! :)

Photos of that auspicious event will be up here very soon. Watch this space....

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The spectral memorials that haunt our roads

They started in San Francisco, spread throughout the States and are now appearing in cities worldwide ghostly white bikes adorned with fresh flowers that mark the spot where a cyclist has been killed. As they begin to appear across Britain, Geraldine Bedell talks to the creators of these poetic shrines and the victims families.

".....The British ghost bike phenomenon remains much more diffuse and less well understood. A memorial to James Foster in Essex Road, on the Hackney-Islington border in London, has recently been vandalised; it is now missing its front wheel, pedals and handlebars and hangs off its post looking battered and lost. James's friend Sarn Baggett, who built it out of spare parts at Mosquito Bikes, where he and James both worked, says all the components were unusable. Perhaps the vandals didn't understand the bike's significance, although it is also possible that people in London are simply less civilised and sympathetic than those in New York.

James, who was 37, was pushing his bike across the road when he was hit by a car driven by 24 year-old Sabrina Harman. She was over the drink-drive limit and speeding and had a previous conviction for drink-driving. She had been banned for a year and still had not regained her full licence.

Foster was well-known and much loved among London cyclists. A tall Tasmanian, with long red dreadlocks, he shared a house with nine other Australians and New Zealanders. Baggett remembers him as 'a classic gentle giant with a massive smile', while his friend Therese Kilpatrick recalls 'a quiet, exceptional person who was incredibly generous with his time, who respected everyone'. He loved cycling and skateboarding and anything to do with adventure; he was also deeply concerned about the environment....."

Click here for the full story

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Wedding: The final few days

Katie and I are jetting off to Sydney tomorrow to get hitched. The last few weeks have absolutely flown by, and now the anticipation is building to record levels. We had a few drinks at the Republic on Sunday afternoon with friends & family, I finished burning the music for the ceremony, background and party sections of Saturday. It seems like the weather is going to be balmy, with a slight chance of a late shower. Very bloody late I hope.

And Katie collected her dress from Sandra:

She is quite excited. "Quite excited", in the same vein that Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch are in "a bit of trouble". Or Brendan Nelson " slightly underestimated his popularity amongst his parliamentary colleagues".

Next step is to get the dress onto the plane as hand luggage. Glad we ain't going JetStar!

Watch this space (as time permits).

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Up on the dry

Was driving past the Domain Slipyards the other day, when I noticed that two of the oldest vessels still floating on the Derwent, the May Queen and the Cartela were both out of the water for maintenance.

Friday, September 05, 2008

End of swine

After six days of leftover meals (pork fried rice, sandwiches, pork, pesto n pasta, etc, etc) and general picking at what was left of the spitroast swine wot we cooked at my buck's weekend, last night I chopped up the final Kg or so and bunged it into a couple of Melton Mowbray style pies. I used this recipe, and I must say the end result is bloody awesome. I left them overnight, and injected the chicken stock and gelatine this morning. Couldn't find any lard for the pastry, but butter seems to suffice OK (and my heart thanks the butchers of Hobart for not stocking it).

I might have to spread the love around the inner west this afternoon.

An interesting angle

Looking over the Railway Roundabout, ABC Centre and Lower Domain from the crane on the Menzies Centre construction site. Pic by ABC Hobart announcer Joel Rheinberger. Click on image for larger version.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

A lunchtime ride

I went for a brisk lunchtime ride today with my mate Mike, who works in the CBD. We rode from the centre of Hobart, up the rivulet track, then up Macquarie Street, Cascade Road, past the brewery and up Strickland Avenue. I lasted about 1500 m past the brewery, while Mike carried on grinding uphill for another ten minutes or so. He commutes from his house, just before the start of the Pinnacle Road on Mt Wellington every day, so he should be bloody fit. I was pleased with how I went, considering the bike hasn't been getting much use lately.

Here's a pic of Mike on his way down, from where I conked out:
Click the image for full size.

There's not many capital cities where you can get surroundings like this on a lunchtime ride from the office. He was back at his desk by ten past two, after a one o'clock departure.

Now I'm off to find some lard to make pork pies with the leftovers from my Buck's Weekend. Watch this space.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


Thirsty Camel Bottleshops natiionwide are running a 100% cashback promotion with Mercury Cider around their new "Artisan" style of cider. The offer's open on all purchases until next Sunday. I'm trying a bottle of the stuff now, and it really isn't too bad for a flat out commercial cider. Definitely very appley, and low on the fizz.

I'd say its absolutely worth a try, especially at the price.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Bux in 'Beena

The weekend just gone saw my Bucks weekend at Becher's family's shack in Nubeena. There were twenty odd of us, drawn from Tasmania, NSW, the ACT and the UK. Dave, Becher, Ben, Nick and I advanced partied it down on Friday afternoon,and set up the facilities, namely Dave's 10x10 metre marquee from hell, which blocked the breeze, and stopped it from raining quite admirably. From then on it was drinkin, fishin, bakin, eatin, cooking the 36 kilo pig, etc.

All in all, a fantastic see ya later from bachelordom from a great bunch of mates. Here's Simon's blog's tale of events, and some other photo links: