Saturday, December 01, 2007

DAY 58: Another day off at Peter and Sue's

Slept a bit later due to getting to sleep late this morning but into action quickly and on the phone to Macca. Macca is the host of a popular Australian radio programme every Sunday morning, which is composed of music and chat - lots of interviews with Australians all over the world about where they are and what they are doing. It is listened to by around 2 million people, and Sue had the great idea of me phoning in to see if they might be interested in what I am doing - with a particular emphasis on raising awareness of WaterAid. Soon after 8 I duly phoned the station and got to speak to a producer of the show who seemed quite interested and asked me to hang on - I guess that have to try and fit many competing topics in in some kind of coherence. I hung on for a while listening to a live broadcast of the show over the phone, but when around an hour later I spoke again to the producer he said he though they would not have time this week, however I should phone next Sunday and try again, which I will. Peter kindly brought me my breakfast as I waited on the phone.

I spent the next couple of hours getting up to date with the blog and as there's a fast broadband connection here could upload more images than usual. And taking a pic of Bobby, right.

In the afternoon we went out for a drive around Mount Lofty, very scenic and reminded me a little of Derbyshire / the Pennines - endless hills and windy road - and the sky was grey, more reminiscent of the UK. We stopped at a place where the can pick your own cherries (me and Sue, below)

DAY 57: Adelaide - From Grace and Sue's to Peter and Sue's

20km @ 15.0 km/hr
very hot, some very steep hills!
Sat 1st December 2007
very hot and sunny, little wind

After another lie in until 8 and breakfast Grace and Sue and I did the piccy thing and said our goodbyes. I really enjoyed this 3-day stay, was hosted very well indeed by them. I was very impressed with the dedicated way they recycle everything possible (including water) and their very positive attitude to environmental protection. If we all had this attitude tyhe world would be a safer place - keep it up guys. (they are also long-term members of, a cycling traveller hosting website similar to They have hosted many cyclists over the years.

I was at Peter and Sue's soon after 10 after a MASSIVE 15% or more hill which left me panting. Happily the very low Rohloff combination I chose was up to the job and I didn't have to push.

P and S welcomed me with a cream tea including Sue's freshly home-made scones - delicious - and a sure way to make me happy! This was an early indicator of the extent to which I will be spoilt over the next few days. Some of Sue's family (Sue's daughters Pam and Katria and grandchildren Michael, Tia, Chloe and Talia) dropped in during the day, and we had a good, lazy, relaxing, enjoyable day shifting about from place to place to find the coolest spot on a VERY hot afternoon (35).

Later on Peter did a barbie of T-bones, kangaroo and sausage and my favourite activity continued unabated (eating I mean!!).

The night was very warm indeed, and despite the comfy bed I took ages to get to sleep - the weather is set to break soon though, and I'll be pleased about that....

DAY 56: Day 2 off Adelaide / Torrens Linear Park

Fri 30th Nov 07
Sunny, hot, 30+C again
50km @ 12.0 km/hr (ambling along)

Great sleep again in the peaceful garden and slept until 8. Spent an hour with Grace discussing bike stuff, and he made me a ‘sock’ cover for my water bottle to help keep it cool during the hot day (it worked too).

3km into the city and onto the TLP cycle track. The linear park term refers to the stretched-out wider banks of the Torrens between the sea, Adelaide city centre, and extends a further 20km or so to the west. There are for the most part cycle tracks both sides of the river and it appears that a broad strip of land some 100m (at least) wide either side of the river is owned by the council and is effectively one long park. The cycle track was in good condition for most of the way - all tarmac - except that it is suddenly closed off both sides at one point without any instructions how to get around the obstacle. It took me a while on ordinary roads to find my way back onto the track. Note sign below - this probably refers to the pollution due to stagnant water as there is so little water flowing at the moment.

The river is dammed just downstream of the city so as to keep water levels high / constant, but beyond this the river dwindles to a trickle - literally the size of a small Scottish burn! Clearly there has been little rainfall recently as confirmed by the constant discussion in the papers here about the need to conserve water. for example hosepipes are banned, but judging by letters to the paper some people are using devious means to get around this - allowing a constant trickle that can’t easily be seen, or watering in the middle of the night - it’s easy to tell who’s at it though by the greenness of the lawn!

The last 2 or 3km before the sea is wetlands (right) - well, assisted wetlands in that more weirs help retain what river water is available rather than allow it straight into the sea. As expected the bird life here is amazing - Australia really is an ornithologist’s paradise, they are so numerous almost everywhere. Shame I didn’t bring my binoculars along today.

The track reached the sea at Henley Beach some 17km from the city, got a drink and a paper, and found a nice shady bench to sit and type up my blog, which is where I am now (below). I’ll probably upload at Peter and Sue’s tomorrow as I have been promised ‘Broadband for as long as I like’!

The pic on the right is of the cycle track as it passes under a road bridge in the centre of the city - dappled warm sunlight; lovely riding.

Later I had ‘roo' and noodles for lunch then slowly ambled back along the cycle track with the wind behind me. It had felt much cooler by the sea - quite comfortable - but just a few km inland it was again getting hot, although generally it wasn’t as hot as yesterday. I understand this is the hottest November on record here, and 37 is forecast for tomorrow - lucky I only have 15km or so to ride up to Peter and Sue’s. Grace and I sorted a ‘safe’ route for me to get there. Grace has been very kind and helpful - he fitted a sock onto my water bottle to keep the water cooler and better to drink -= the principle being that wetting the sock helps keep the contents cool as the outer water evaporates, I having tested it out today I can say that it works very well. My water was nowhere near as warm as it was before. He also got some eyelets and fixed them around my piece of shade cloth I use as a protective base layer for under the tent, so that it can double as a provider of shade on hot sunny days. The eyelets will allow the thing to be slung up between trees for example to create a cooler spot beneath; I can see that being useful if this heat persists which it is bound to do in the future.

The ride back to the city was very enjoyable - warm sunshine, nice tailwind, nice shady cycle track, cafe stop for FUIC and cake, lovely greenery and scenery - bliss; a proper, relaxed, holiday day.

Back in the city I had a peek at the Adelaide Oval cricket ground; very smart; and a look around St.Peter’s Anglican Cathedral. The couple looking after the church today were chatting about Caithness - the husband worked on the Loch Affric Hydro power station and visited Caithness in the 60’s on a motor bike. He had an accident at Forss and he said that some kind people called Dunnet looked after him for a few days until he recovered. Small world.

The three pics below show the contrast between the artificially 'big' river as seen in the city centre(below right); and reduced size downstream (below). The sign is self-explanatory.

DAY 55: Day 1 off Adelaide / around the city

Thurs 29th Nov 07
Sunny, hot, 30+C

After a lie-in and breakfast with Grace I headed off on foot to explore the Adelaide. it was already pretty hot by 0900 and I got a bus for the 3km or so into the city centre.

First stop was the Botanical gardens and in fact I spent the bulk of the day in there - there’s a lot to see. I took the 90 minute free guided tour, which was much more informative than wandering around trying to read all the interpretive signs. The guide, Rosemary, really knew her stuff and not only identified lots of trees and birds but related some interesting snippets of history about the gardens, which are among the oldest in Australia. She took great care to keep us in the shade as much as possible and out of the searing heat - not too difficult with huge trees everywhere. Birds were more thick on the ground than ever in this city avian heaven - one I hadn’t seen before was the Eastern Rosella, and there were a great number of very tame crested pigeons, Pacific Black ducks, and Noisy Miners. The latter must be one of the commonest birds in Oz as I have seen them everywhere between Perth and here - they are the birds that make a terrific screeching noise when you approach the bush trees and shrubs that they inhabit.

Some of the greenhouses were just too hot to linger in - unbearable - but the botanical museum was air conditioned and after the tour I lingered in there a while and watched a video. I then went off to the scavenging bird-strewn outdoor cafe for lunch - a lovely fresh crusty beef and salad roll - mmmmmm! And of course the usual FU Iced Coffee. It was pleasant to just linger a good while doing nothing other than watch people pass by, no urgency at all today to get anywhere.

The Gardens are well-placed relative to several other places of interest including the Adelaide Museum, Art gallery, Library and Aboriginal Centre. I visited the latter first and was impressed by the artwork on display - some typical and well-crafted aboriginal paintings using dots, and some less typical woolen and cloth exhibits. I had a chat with the artist-in-residence who initially has funding for 6 months in the post, producing artwork for possible future display and other duties. We discussed the possible analogy between the archetypal Aboriginal patterns and those of the Scottish tartan, which might be seen as variations on the same artistic theme. Some of the paintings seemed quite cheap and I would loved to have taken a couple home, but it’s not really possible the way things are.

I next ventured into the art gallery, and again being air-conditioned it was very cool and pleasant to stroll around. The place is huge, it seemed to go on for ever, and there’s a wide mix of European, rest of the world and Australian work. I could have spent much longer in there if I had the time, but I wanted to check e-mails etc. so headed next door to the library. Unfortunately I only had half an hour which was hardly enough, so I couldn’t upload to the blog. There seems to be so much to do and answer to when I get to log on I hardly ever get done in less that an hour.

After early dinner with Grace and Sue we drove over to some friends of theirs for the evening. The object was to play a game called the Phoenicians (I think) whereby you trade commodities with neighbouring countries and try to become wealthy - a little like Monopoly but much more complicated. I finally ‘kind of’ got the hang of it and quite enjoyed the evening.

DAY 54: Gawler to Adelaide / around the city

Weds 28th Nov 07
68 km @ 20.6 km/hr
Sunny, hot, 30+C
good tailwind

Had a good sound sleep last night. Had a good natter to a retired NZ fire chief over the barbie and learnt some interesting things about fires. Some of his men were seconded over here during the intense spate of fires a couple of years ago, and were amazed at the difficulty in stopping fires in Australia - apparently eucalyptus (gum trees) that are so prevalent in Oz can spread great distances through the air due to the gases given off by the trees forming a combustible zone in mid-air. Scary stuff.

No chance of a lie in this morning due to traffic noise (on the edge of a big city) and the heat produced in the tent by the sun soon after 7.

The traffic was heavy for the 47km into Adelaide; with hindsight it was damn dangerous and I should have found an alternative route. I had fully expected a cycle lane / verge but no go. SA roads have been disappointing in that respect, whilst there are plenty of cycle routes for commuters in the city, there are none outside the city. For some 25km I was dicing with death on a 100 km/hr dual carriageway with drivers hurrying to work. Most were courteous; a few were not, and got the gesticulatory result of my anger regarding how trivial a cyclists life appears to be to them. I regretted the temper afterwards, because I know it doesn’t help in the long run. There were brief sections of cycle lane which I was grateful for, but anyone thinking of using this road beware - don’t unless it’s improved.

Happily the experience was limited timewise due to a good tail wind - not often I can average over 20 km/hr fully laden. I had good instructions about how to get to GN’s house (my host) and I found it fairly easily. I think I had arrived a little early but Grace welcomed me warmly and he soon had the kettle on. I was rightly repremanded by him for not seeking advice about safe routes into Adelaide. I’m going to camp in the garden and very nice it is too - quiet and shady. The house is only 4 or 5 km from the city centre but it’s a very charming suburban area of older houses with mature tree-lined streets.

Grace and I headed off on the bikes into the city and he showed me a few landmarks to help me find my way around. I sat in a pavement cafe with latte and muffin for a while and watched the world go by - very busy centre of course. I had a quick look around, but didn’t like leaving the bike on it’s own with the rather feeble lock I have, and had already decided to return on the bus tomorrow and spend the whole day here.

Grace had showed me where the library (for internet) is just near his house so I called in on the way back, but had no luck at all. I managed to get an e-mail off to Lyn but the IE browser steadfastly refused to allow me to log on to Blogger; either the library computers or Blogger clearly had a problem, I’ll try again tomorrow.

Health update (not for the squeamish) - saddle sores still there and they refuse to heal up. No surprise really i suppose since I’m cycling nearly every day. They are open sores and although I put nothing on at night (trying to encourage them to dry up) and apply antiseptic in the morning, then a load of Vaseline just before setting off, no improvement. I suppose being so hot and sweaty doesn’t help either. I’ll persevere with this treatment unless I hear of something better. Still feeling pretty tired with the heat - very hot out there now (over 30) but I’m in a nice shady area of the garden. Still getting a few mozzie bites every day - at least one seems to find its way into my tent every night and feast on me for supper, and I resolve to buy an insect spray to spray inside the tent once I’m settled for the night. No other problems to stop me riding, and in general feeling pretty fit.
Grace just arrived back and the kettle is on and I have a huge apricot bun thing for us all to have a go at. It’s a hard life.