a seventh day

Yesterday I commented on my regret not buying an early edition of the OED, though there was certainly an affordability issue involved. Another thing I regret from an earlier trip is not buying a glass snail in Venice.

It was a trip that I was organising as I went, an initial outline and direction but flexible as I went. I had originally planned to stay a day or so in Florence, and a few days in Padua, a town from which to visit nearby Venice. One day in Florence, became two, then three, and I think I finally departed on the fourth. That meant I could but squeeze two nights in Padua and a single day trip to Venice with a new friend I’d met on the train.

glass snail from Venice

While wandering around Venice, where glass making is a local craft, I saw many glass snails for sale. However I ended up not buying any as I was concerned about transporting them safely in my backpack. I have not let that stop me since and have successfully bought snails elsewhere while travelling.

Some years later, my cousin gave me a glass snail, made on the island of Murano in Venice, the home of Venetian glass making. So I at least have a lovely snail from Venice. However I am hoping to return in September and perhaps stay a night in Venice for the specific purpose of snail hunting.

a sixth day

Should I buy a Lonely Planet?

I finally have a trip coming up. Leaving the house; airports and other countries. Some old, some new. A trip we’d hoped to take in 2020 is shaping to happen this year at last.

I found myself in a bookshop on the weekend and sure enough there was a large display of Lonely Planet titles. Lonely Planet has always provided my travel bible, regardless of destination; they seem to have books for all places…and then some. Weirdly the display had Europe but not Western Europe though that may simply be a stock issue.

travel books

I have a fine collection myself including titles from other publishers but Lonely Planet stands out. When I used to travel long ago, I’d happily stay in hostel dorms. I have since realised that when folk complained about the loud snorer in the room, they meant me. I never noticed of course and always slept straight through. I even slept through when folk tried to wake me in a hut on the Kepler Track in NZ though my poor partner bore the brunt of that attempt. These days when I travel, I go for the solo rooms…admittedly, I’m bit over over dorms as well. Not sure how I feel about the airbnb approach these days and may even be circling round to the idea of hotels.

Accommodation aside, the humble travel guide was good for finding hidden gems and I seem to recall they used to cover cheaper accommodation beyond hostels too. Interesting places to visit and dine, as well as the popular stuff. My partner will be travelling too but working, or rather researching so that provides the framework of where we go though I’m looking at side trips here and there. I have long had a desire to visit Portmeirion in Northern Wales and I may finally make it this year. Speaking of Wales, I found an interesting version of an early edition of the OED many years ago in a bookshop in Hay-On-Wye but did not buy as it was around 400 quid and would have cost at least that much in postage. I have had regular regrets and wonder if it is still there.

a fifth day

Filmfesting used to be a thing. For many years, 25 I think, I had the same seat, or near enough, at the Sydney Film Festival. I also spent many years on the committee for Unimovies, the film group at Wollong Uni. Not to mention squeezing in occasional other festivals like the german film festival and the french. I think at one stage I was managing 120+ movies at the cinema each year.

State Theatre neon sign

I wish I’d taken more notes and blogjune provided a useful space for recording thoughts on film for a bunch of years.

My viewing has dropped over the last few years, first because covid, and then a move to the country, and currently a certain lethargy toward films that make me think.

There was an article in the SMH today on the top 10 films to see at this year’s Sydney filmfest including a new film from Finnish fave, Aki Kaurismäki, called Fallen Leaves. I recall first encountering him via Leningrad Cowboys and he is a director that continues to delight. There’s a new Oz movie opening, The New Boy, which looks interesting…come to think of it, Ivan Sen recently released a new film that I need to watch eventually.

This year, there is an overdue retrospective of Jane Campion and I have seen many of them, and would happily watch them again. I am somewhat curious about a documentary on Pascoe’s Dark Emu and the debates surrounding it.

Somewhat weirdly, the festival will close with the latest Indiana Jones film – which I want to see but it does not seem a good fit for the fest, nevermind as the closing fillum.

a fourth day

I slept in today and my head cold is improving though I feeling tired and lethargic. Popped out for brekky at my usual which was weirdly packed at 1 so I sat outside. A small downside of living within cooee of a significant tourist destination with the Highlands overflowing with visitors all year round.

Another small downside is autumn…or specifically autumn leaves. They look fab on the tree but take a bit of effort to clear once fallen. My partner cleared about 8 barrow loads the other day and I thought I’d attack the road out the front this arvo. She spends lots of hours outside doing gardening and such, I but a few.

More leaves
more leaves

Anyways, I got out the leaf blower and cleared the road, clearing another 4 or 5 barrow loads into compost piles down the side of the garage. My partner, after mowing another section, mowed the section out the front which was a rather efficient way of sucking up all the leaves too.

a third day

First there were two, with Graeme and myself, now Kathryn and Andrew, and possibly Stephen. I could stop with this my post for today but I may yet ramble.

I seem to have a slight nasal cold. It’s been some years since I last had a proper cold, pre covid in fact. Lockdowns have their advantages in reducing the transmission of colds and flus, along with other things. I seem to be one of an increasingly small group that’s never had covid either. A combo of luck and too much isolation I suspect.

Andrew’s post today reminds me that I really need to start being a little proactive about my health. I’m in my mid 50s and while I’ve never been particularly fit, that has declined further in recent years as I watch my waistline expand. I have a big overseas trip ahead for which I anticipate lots of walking though I walk so little now.

A downside of where we live now is that I’m more car dependent than ever. I should make more effort to get up a little earlier perhaps, before 9 even, and go for a walk before work. When I lived alone in Sydney’s inner west, I used to go for regular walks after work, on the weekends perambulating through the beautiful grounds of Sydney Uni.

I’ve been meaning to buy a pushbike since moving to the Highlands but haven’t got round to it. There is a bike shop in Moss Vale I should investigate though they seem a little fancy. My weekend drive for brekky could easily be done by pushy in 5-10 minutes. Riding there to build up the appetite, riding home to work it off :)

slowing already

It’s day 2 of June and I’m already behind. There is one other brave soul continuing the effort with 2 decent posts already.

A cooler, quieter day today with occasional sun.

Many leaves have fallen from the trees as winter encroaches. I am glad I caught this beautiful shot out the back last week.

Autumn leaves
autumn in the Southern Highlands


Aaaarrrrgggghhhhhh! More #blogjune???

Dunno if I will, dunno if I won’t. I’m still blogging a few times of year and don’t ever see that stopping. Blogging more often, that I don’t know. We shall see. As I did last year, let’s start with some stats:

June posting figures

a break in broadcasting

I went to VALA and stopped blogging. VALA was good. Also exhausting. Even getting there was exhausting. A downside of moving to the Highlands is suddenly airports are no longer easy to get to…especially on a public holiday. VALA was moved from February to mid June which meant I spent the public holiday Monday travelling to Melbourne.

I left home at 10.30 Monday morning and 8 hours later, made it to my hotel in Melbourne. That’s a long commute. Part of it is the 2 hour train ride to get to the airport on a line where trains run every hour or so and because it was a public holiday, they were two hours apart at the crucial time. Qantas was encouraging folk to get to the airport 2 hours prior for domestic flights. Due to vagaries of train timetabling, I arrived around 2 hours 40 prior and was airside with 10 minutes. All their queueing problems of a couple days earlier had been resolved. Then the plane was half an hour late as they had to change a tyre…at least it wasn’t cancelled which seems to be an increasingly common occurrence.

I normally fly home from VALA on the Thursday night but that would have meant touching down at Sydney airport around 9-9.30pm and a 2 hour+ commute home. Work instead recommended I stay Thursday night in Melbourne and fly back in the morning. That worked well and I went from the airport to the office.

Next time I do this I might look at other airports. I did explore other options but stuck with Mascot this time round but did note for a 4 day trip:

  • Shellharbour Airport: 1 hour 15 min drive – free parking
  • Mascot Airport: 1 hour 20 min drive or 2 hours on train – $100-250 parking
  • Canberra Airport: 1 hour 50 drive – $108 parking

There’s a few variations on this eg I could drive to Stanmore in Sydney’s Inner West and park near a friend’s place then get a train to Mascot, reducing the reliance on the vagaries of the Highlands train line. The Shellharbour option is interesting as there’s a smaller company that does flights twice a day to/from Essendon. The flight home was too early for a VALA departure but would have worked for a Friday morning flight. I’m a little surprised that Canberra is a viable option. The only question is how comfortable I am leaving a car at the airport for a few days.

in transit

Being overprepared and early does wonders for keeping me relaxed. A moment of panic initially when the 10.18 train from Mittagong was running 15 minutes late…and increasing. I was planning on catching the 10.47. Curiously, there were two trains half an hour apart…then a 2 hour gap to the next one. My partner gave me a lift to the station and I had a couple of backup plans including driving to Sydney and getting a train from Stanmore where I used to park for work long ago. Had the time if that option was required.

All was well. The 10.18 was ultimately cancelled and the 10.47 was a mere 5 minutes late. A change at Macarthur, then put my backpack on on approach to Domestic and hooned through the corridors to checkin just like old times. No queues anywhere whatsoever. No queue to get baggage tag (had checked in yesterday via app), no queue to drop luggage, not even a queue at the security gate. I figured that might be the case but wanted to be cautious. Here I am flight side, having brekky and a coffee with 2.5 hours to spare.

Getting the foundations right for this trip gives me time to breathe. I need to work out ways to rebuild my resilience and this trip is a good start. I need to handle challenges better as I’m a wee bit rusty.

packing for vala

Well that was fun. I’m fairly sure I ain’t “match fit” for travelling and flying. Have packed my bags, carry-on and checked pack. First time I’ve packed for a flight since VALA in February 2020. It’s going to be raining in Melbourne so I’m taking an umbrella but it won’t fit in the pack so I’ll have to carry it in cabin. Quick google to confirm that that was ok. My umbrella is purple and pretty and I do not want to lose it. On the good side, it’ll be warmer in Melbourne than where I live.

I decided taking two laptops was a bit excessive…not to mention additional weight. As it’s close to end of financial year, I need my work laptop to keep on top of things. But it is heavy and has poor battery life which doesn’t make it fab for conferencing. My personal laptop is light and quick with a reasonable battery life.

I’ve been slowly migrating over to my personal laptop as a possible “bring your own device” scenario. I recently had to install the work’s office suite so I could do some database stuff and today I took the final step and added access to my work’s onedrive. All done, and seems to be working and accessing the stuff I need.

Feeling a little anxious and out of practice. Looking forward to flying again. Not sure how I feel entering conference space and meeting with folk, numbers are down so it shouldn’t be too scary. I’ve got a bunch of meetings lined up with vendors, often at the same time as papers – conferencing is always that balance of making sure I get to the key papers and keynotes I want, while ensuring I’m meeting with as many relevant suppliers as I can.