Every year around Bondi Beach for about two weeks they have the FREE ‘Sculptures by the Sea’ festival, which does what you could expect. It’s been going 18 years now.

We went along last year and I thought it was really good. You can see my favourite pictures from that one, here.

This year we went down after work again, but by the time we had finished getting distracted in the new ‘traditional’ English fish and chip shop in Bondi (complete with a fryer from Yorkshire), it was getting a bit late. So instead we headed for some ice cream from Messina (awesome) and I went back the next day as I had the day off.

This was a pretty big mistake, as it was truly rammed, mainly with many many groups of kids on school trips. At times I was doing the penguin waddle along the path, and it was really hard to enjoy the sculptures with so  many other people around and getting in the way of my view and my photos! I know, I’m antisocial!

There was some cool stuff though. My favourite ones are below, this time with non-artistic commentary, because it turns out the brochure we got for free last year actually costs $10! I definitely recommend going in the evening.

There were lots of these newspaper ants hiding in the cliff nooks and crannies. They are called Look Who.

Scupture4

 

This sculpture was wood and wire, and looked like some sort of sea creature, maybe an anemone. Its called Currawong, which is a bird.

Sculpture3

This one I liked because it was like a cross between a pine cone and an anemone, made with wooden plans and wire on the top. It was called The Grove.

Sculpture1

This one reminded me of a Cairn, and is called The figure in the landscape.

Looks like a cairn

Looks like a cairn

This one was my definite favourite. Its a big wooden whale, called Breaching. I really liked its form, and how it suited the setting of the coast.

Sculpture2

 

Court

Katoomba Courthouse

Back at the end of September I got to spend a day in court. I know what you’re thinking, but I’m innocent. Really! I know they all say that, but I am. Yes. Innocent.

It was an interesting day, so I thought I’d share some thoughts about it. First, here’s some background.

We bought our car (Jeffrey) last June. After deciding to get something a few years old, and then understanding better how prices and depreciation are a bit different over here to in the UK, we ended up buying him brand new. I’ve not had a brand new car before, so we were obviously very careful driving him about, and like slightly over-protective parents. About 4-6 weeks later in July we drove him to the Blue Mountains for a Rockies club climbing trip. We parked him nice and safe in a space in a car park in Blackheath, and went off for a coffee and bacon and egg roll. When we came back, there was a note attached to the door handle, and a big dent in most of the front passenger door. To say we were not impressed is a large understatement!

The note was from a witness, not the pupretrator. We took lots of photos, and spoke to another guys in the car park who has also witnessed the incident. We reported it to the insurance company, who wanted us to pay the excess until they knew who had done it. We decided to wait for the police to sort that rather than pay up and have the unenviable job of getting money back from an insurer! On Monday after work we went and reported it to the Sydney police too, who took a statement from me. That was a pretty informal over the counter thing. Eventually this got passed up to the local police to investigate, and I spent a lot of time chasing them up about it.

Eventually, about 9 months later, the perpetrator was confirmed to the insurance company and they paid up to fix poor Jeffrey, who needed as whole new door. According to the police the guy was found guilty in court, and we thought it was all done and dusted.

But then……

Whilst I was in Brisbane working, Matt called to say I had a Court Subpoena with one week notice. And it wasn’t even a local court, but in Katoomba, 2 hours west of Sydney. I was due to be back in Brisbane that week, but the note on the bottom of the letter said if I didn’t go I could be arrested. So, after a lot of phone calls (mainly unanswered) I finally spoke to the police who said I had to go. I didn’t really think I was a very good witness as Matt parked the car and we didn’t actually see anything, but apparently it was important I went and said it was OK when we parked it and that it wasn’t when we got back.

While I was waiting around I got to meet the other two witnesses, both retired guys who live up in the mountains and has been off bushwalking when the car got hit. We weren’t allowed to talk about the case, but had a good chat about climbing and England!

In the end I had to wait about 2.5 hours before they called me in. You get a choice of oaths to God, or not God which was interesting. The magistrate told me everything was being recorded. She asked me a couple of times to slow down as apparently the recording was only for after the event, and she was taking notes. She as pretty grumpy in general, being quite abrupt with everyone there, seemed pretty unimpressed at the prosecutor and even shouted at the police officer at one point for shuffling his papers!  It was pretty stressful, even though I didn’t do anything wrong! My evidence probably only lasted 10 minutes.

I could have gone after giving my evidence, but having given up the day to go there I  thought I’d stay and see what happened, so listened to the other witnesses which was interesting. The defendant defended himself, which probably wasn’t a great choice as he didn’t seem to have much idea how the whole thing worked. He asked me a few questions, one of which wasn’t actually a question (which the magistrate pointed out) and the other was about why one of the witnesses did something, which obviously I didn’t know!

Apparently the defendant was found guilt the first time, but only had short notice about the hearing so hadn’t been able to attend. Because of that, and a few other things they went ahead with a re-determination and so needed all the witnesses. There were quite a few things in the defendants story which didn’t stack up, but I won’t write the details on here.

It was a really interesting experience, and despite all the evidence nobody will ever know with100% certainty if he was guilty or not, apart from him (and the person who did do it, if he was indeed innocent).

We adjourned for an hour over lunch, and then came back into the court room and waited for the verdict. All in the magistrate summed up what she heard and what she believed to be true (e.g. that we parked the car and it was fine and that it had a big dent when we came back). It took about 20 minutes to go through it all. In the end he was found guilty of tow offences – reversing carelessly and failing to report an accident.

The maximum fine was $2,200 per offence, but he got the same fine he originally had, which was about $400. I’m not sure why. He had to also pay costs, which were $80 – pretty reasonable I thought. I got refunded costs of driving there, lost work time and lunch, but apparently that comes from general taxation, not the guilty party.

All in it was an interesting experience, and Jeffrey is all fixed, so the story has a happy ending.

 

After 13 continuous days of rain, spring had finally arrived in Sydney with a fine sunny day and an opportunity to get out for an adventure. Following an early start from Sydney, Paul and I arrived in Blackheath for the traditional coffee and sandwich from Altitude Deli. This seemed to have also been the plan for many other Sydney climbers, as we kept bumping into people that we knew. We had planned our adventure earlier in the week with 2 others, Andrew and Heath and our goal for the day was Clockwork Orange (20) – a classic multipitch trad climb at Shipley Lower. Given the hoards of climbers in Blackheath, it seemed like a good idea to go a bit further out of the way. While Paul and I waited for food and coffee, Andrew and Heath headed down to set up the abseil.

Following a longer than usual wait, we headed down to the crag and after a bit of bush bashing we eventually found the abseil and the other guys bags. After finding only a carrot and quickdraw tied to the rope, we were a bit sceptical about their abseil set up abilities! However our fears were quickly put to rest when we stuck our heads over the edge to see that this was just a guide rope and the actual abseil set up was on a ledge a couple of metres below. The abseil got the adventure off to a good start. There’s nothing like abseiling down a waterfall to wake you up in the morning.

Clockwork Orange (20)

Clockwork Orange (22)

We arrived at the base of the climb just as the others were finishing the first pitch. Our plan was for Paul to lead the first pitch (18), I was then going to lead the money pitch (20) and look to decide whether to run the next pitch (15) as well. The first pitch was a nice looking orange corner, probably worth a few stars on its own. As the other team worked on pitch 2 Paul led solidly up the first pitch. As Paul was making good progress up the first pitch, I could see a small part of the second pitch and noticed that Heath who was leading the second pitch was hanging on gear. This wasn’t great for my head, as I knew that he was a stronger climber than me. Paul waited for a while on the ledge below the belay whilst the others finished up their pitch. After a while the belay was clear, and Paul headed up and set up his belay on bomber gear in a vertical crack. I followed up and was quickly up at the belay where I got my first proper look at the second pitch.

The line looked amazing. Brilliant orange rock led up a slab and short corner. From there you move out and round a roof, pulling through the roof leads to a crack that steepens as it rises, with the crux probably being the last few moves before the ledge. I started up the slab and was up at the roof before I knew it. Leading out around the roof leaves you feeling a bit exposed, but the pitch had bomber gear (mainly small cams and nuts) throughout, which helped clear my head. Pulling around the roof I was established in the crack, bridging the corner where I could to place gear and rest my arms. Eventually I got to the last few meters where I had seen Heath resting. By this point my arms were pretty pumped, so I placed a couple of final bits of gear and talked myself into just going for it. With a few strenuous, moves I finally found myself pulling onto the ledge that signified the end of the pitch. I was pretty wasted.

Clockwork Orange (22)

Clockwork Orange (22)

I had a quick look around to see what the belay was like – all I found was a small nut and what Heath aptly later described as placing a cam in butter. I quickly decided to run up the next pitch to finish the climb, as Andrew and Heath had done. The third pitch was a easy short groove up a corner, but a combination of pump, rope drag and bad gear made it feel much harder. By the time I had got to the top, I was really wasted. I had to sit down for a couple of moments to compose myself and remember how to set up a belay. Paul followed me up and by the time he got to the top he looked half dead and mentioned something about drinking too much the night before! We got up the climb with no falls, which to me equals success. This was probably the best 20 that I have climbed in the Blue Mountains.

We rounded off the day by heading to Porters Pass via Shipley Upper, where we met fellow Rockies members Shawn and Junko. Paul was too destroyed to climb by this point, however I dragged my way up a couple of sport climbs, Lego Land (23) and Spread’em Baby (22). After that we called it a day and headed back to Sydney. As we were leaving the others were working on Escape Velocity (24). Lets hope for more fine spring days and more adventures to come.

Clockwork Orange (22)

Clockwork Orange (22)

Sheep Roast Club (or Sydney Rock Climbing Club?)

Sheep Roast Club (or Sydney Rock Climbing Club?)

Last year we went to our first annual Sydney Rockies Sheep Roast in the Wolgan Valley, in the Wollemi National Park. You can ready all about it here.

Time has flown, and it got around to that time of year again. The Wolgan is about three hours west of Sydney, traffic permitting. The gravel road has been mainly tarmacked now, so the trip up was quicker this year. We spotted a wombat on the way which was very cute indeed, and a possum eating the leftover pasta Paul had kindly made us.

Possum ready for cooking...

Possum ready for cooking…

On Saturday Matt and Paul went and did a multi-pitch climb they had to retreat from the year before (Secret Swingers and Schmitar on Old Baldie). They felt pretty pleased with themselves having completed that. My friend Heather and I took a walk up Mystery Mountain for some pretty awesome views around the valley, and then had a very nice swim in the river by the campsite to cool off. The campsite had a lot of kangaroos and wallabies hopping around, but just the one wombat this year. We even went on a walk to hunt for some, but with no luck.

Old Baldie

Old Baldie

Saturday night was the sheep roast, which was yummy once again, having been cooking over the spit for about 10 hours.

On Sunday we went on a walk to the glow worm tunnel. At the start of the walk our friend Paul wasn’t too keen on the 8km, 4 hour circuit, so we decided to drive to the other end of the tunnel where we walk was just an hour. The drive of about 40 minutes turned out to be nearer an hour and a half with 35km of bumpy gravel road, but the scenery was pretty cool up on the Newnes Plateau. We even got to drive through a petty basic, mainly unmarked rock tunnel!

The car tunnel

The car tunnel

The glow worm walk was good, and once the other noisy walkers had gone we managed to see lots of glow worms on the tunnel walls. On the way home we stopped for some cool drinks overlooking the Blue Mountains, and took Jeffrey (the car) for a well needed car wash!

WolganCamp

Liking: Finishing by Brisbane bid so I can spend some time in Sydney for a while – woo! Also, it was the Wolgan Sheep Roast weekend which was excellent again and included a wombat 🙂

Disliking: Evenings alone in my Brisbane hotel room. I don’t mind some me time at all, but it got a bit dull by the end.

Watching: We went to see Bill Bailey Limboland tour live in Sydney, and even saw him out the front before hand. It was good, although I have to say not as funny as last time I saw time live. I also finished the British Bake Off on iPlayer and am now watching the Apprentice on that.

Playing:  Our latest game is a small card game called Citadels. We picked it for something small to take on trips with us. After beating Matt the first time, he got much more tactical and slightly evil and beat me by miles the second time. Its a medieval themed city building game, with a lot of tactics and seems pretty good so far. It comes automatically with a couple of expansion cards too to mix it up a bit.

Consuming: I’ve spent a lot of time in Brisbane, so mainly food from the hotel and restaurants near the hotel.

Buying: For our third anniversary present (leather themed) I got some nice chocolate brown Ugg boots. Not the right time of year here, but come winter they will keep my feet lovely and toastie warm.

Thinking about: Upcoming trips – we’re going to have a busy November.

Visiting: We went to the Wolgan valley again for the annual Sheep Roast with the Rockies climbing club which was good fun again. There were a lot of roos and wallabies this time, although only one alive wombat. It was a super cute one though.

Missing: Its got properly hot here now. I know I shouldn’t complain, but I am missing being a comfortable temperature rather than too hot, especially at night.

Looking forward to: In November we have 5 visitors coming over from Horsham in the UK. I’m very excited and looking forward to some time with them here in Sydney (including two days off work from having worked a Public Holiday, woo) and then a week up on the Reef. 😀