Thursday, 29 January 2009

My Training Regime

At first I thought that, tonight, after walking through my new fitness programme, I'd be regaling you all with tales of my new regime - favourite bits, new challenges and new goals. But I can't. Why? Because it's so bloody long. I can't remember it all. I'll start writing a blog with the new workout in it and finish it (hopefully) next week. What I will say is that it's very different, and at the end of walking through it with Chris (who you may remember from last week), I finally found out why.

What I can do for now is show you my old training regime (and thereby not get in trouble for false advertising for the title of this entry), and talk about my week anyway.

I thought my old regime was already up on the net but it isn't anywhere I can find. I did email it to some mates ages ago, so thankfully I don't have to recite it from memory, although I'm sure I could.

Here it is, it takes about two and a half hours in total:

Gym workout:
Designed to work on increasing fitness, weight loss, increasing core strength, and increasing shoulder strength. Duration: approx 2-2.5 hours. Done twice a week.

5 minutes on rowing machine on level 10 (max)

Treadmill - 15 min run @ 12kph, 4 degree incline
Bike - 15 mins on level 4, keep pedal revolutions above 100/minute
Cross trainer - 15 mins on level 8
Rowing machine - 4x500 metres on level 10, 1 min break between sets; aim for 1:45 per 500m

Lat pull-downs - 3x15 on 25kg
Shoulder press - 3x15 on 20kg
Lunges - 30 on each leg
Chest pullovers - 3x15 on 4kg (shoulders on a fitball and feel on ground, slowly bring weight from above your head to chest and back)
Lateral raises - 3x15, 4kg in each hand

Resistance Work:
Reverse fly - 3x15 on level 1 (pull weight from in front of your chest to sides)
Bicep curl - 3x15 on level 2
Tricep curl - 3x15 on level 1 (opposite of bicep curl)

Core Strength:
Stomach crunches - 45 on 25kg (machine)
Lower back - 45 on 15kg (machine, opposite of stomach crunches)
Standing raises - 45 at 4kg (standing, bring medicine ball up from between legs to shoulder level, and slowly down again)
Superman - 45 on each leg
Plank - 60sec
Bridge - 60sec on fitball
Side plank - 45sec on each side

Cool Down:
Treadmill - run 5 min @ 10kph

Not a bad workout eh? It was quite an effort, but in a good way. I'd come out feeling really great, but if I'd cut corners I'd be upset and a bit guilty. The system worked.

This week is hopefully the last before I revert to something approximating a routine. French starts next week and I'll be back at cricket training. This week there were the following disruptions to the normal routine:
- a four day weekend (Monday and Tuesday off): I only drank on Sunday and Monday nights, but I did eat pretty well all weekend
- At Rotto I thought I'd be riding a bike everywhere, but barely got on a bike at all
- on arrival back home I planned to swim on Wednesday night but ran out of time. I had to shop, do a load of washing, and a few other things. Even without swimming it was past midnight before I hit the sack
- no cricket training on Tuesday or Thursday (it at least pretends to be exercise)
- Thursday at the gym was a lighter than a normal session as I spent an hour being toured around the machines by Chris, so I actually did an hour of training
- I can't do anything on Friday because I'm heading down south for a wedding early afternoon

All told, plenty of excuses. But I weighed myself tonight and I'd lost a kilo. I'm down to 95kg.

The journey has begun!

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Curing Rottnest Amnesia

OK, I'll admit it. I forgot.

I forgot how awesome Rotto is.

To be fair it has been twelve years since I last visited (mid-year 1997, when we one of our mates was given a "home made" mullet, we had a Greek wedding in our chalet and we were kicked off the island in 48 hours). But the length of time between visits is, if anything, more damning for me.

I headed over last Sunday morning to the famous island escape 30 mins from Perth, to join some mates that had been on the island since Thursday. We had a great chalet just south of the pub which had a view of Thompson Bay, but I had hardly arrived before we were off to the west end of the island to leap off Jump Rock, which was awesome. Without a bike I was otherwise a little constrained in my movements but managed to get to the pub OK while there. I was told a lot about the changes to Rotto, and that it would be unrecognisable. There weren't that many changes I noticed really. Only the following come to mind:

- the drinking water is much better

- the pub has been extensively done up

- the bakery is much bigger and swankier

- additional shops: Subway and the gourmet café

- the chalets have been done up a little bit, but not much

Also I should mention that most things were much less expensive that I expected. $7.50 pints at the pub for example. But the bakery made up for all of that.

For our part, the highlight was the night time festivities, which include appointing someone to cook and organise some drinks for nationality-themed nights. Australia Day was a no-brainer (kangaroo on the barbie), but the real genius was having an American-themed day the night before.

The animosity we received was breathtaking. Sure, we bought it on a bit by being insanely loud and obnoxious, but that's just being American, right? Also we all had large plastic hats full of bourbon. Really. Anyways, the neighbours riding up and down the street at first took a curious interest in us (including playing "American Idiot" on their stereo), and then got resentful. The kids waterbombed us, and some of the dimmer members of our little community just started abusing us.

It got worse when we got to the pub and insisted we stay in character. It was probably more annoying that our accents were disgracefully unconvincing.

On reflection I can't imagine why we were so unpopular.

Anyone who managed to read this and is from Perth, I'm sorry but none of that was very new to you. But those of you unfamiliar with Rotto, and not planning on using ridiculous American accents, should definitely get there when you visit Perth. As I was reminded on the weekend, there really isn't anything like it in the world. Not that I can think of anyway.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

The Fitness Appraisal: I'm Officially a Freak

Let me get two things out of the way before I begin. First of all, I think I mentioned joining a gym and updated my weight (no change) at the end of the blog. A couple of you have pointed out I don't lose weight by actually joining a gym. Of course, I failed to mention that I swam a couple of times last week (2km each) and did a brief, 60min workout in the gym. Hence the expectation that I might lose some weight. Not to be though!

Secondly, yes I am writing a blog entry on a Saturday night. It's sad I know, but it would be sadder if I wasn't going to Rotto on Sunday and Monday nights. I'm treating those two days as my weekend, so it was quiet last night and will be tonight also.

Anyways, there is a reason for writing this now. Today I had my fitness appraisal and I have a lot of figures to remember. Today raised way more questions than it answered.

I just made it to my 11am appraisal. The chap to appraise me was Chris, who's South African. He asked me to fill in a form - the usual stuff: what injuries I've had, what my aims are, what sort of things I want to do, and how much time I'm willing to give. So I filled it in.

A few minutes later Chris came back and read through the form. Obviously he'd already seen me and formed an impression. He saw that I'd written, among other things, that I want to work out twice a week for two hours.

He raised an eyebrow.

He asked why I wanted to work for so long, and I told him: its about as long as I was working out when in the UK. Then he told me that it was futile - that anything over an hour was of no benefit. In fact he said that, without putting additional sugar into your system you'll be burning muscle.

Now, I'm not sure I can really agree with that, but then I don't have any expertise. But other experts gave me that programme in the UK, so what do you say? I'm sure in health ed we were told you burn sugars first, then fats and finally muscle. He totally skipped fats! Maybe he knows what he's talking about, but I might seek a second opinion.

Nonetheless I handed him my old programme, which I took along with me.

He had no problem with my aim.

Things got more interesting when he started taking my measurements. Quite a bit of them actually, including weight, height, skin folds, blood pressure, resting HR, etc. The weight was 94.7kg, but that doesn't count as loss as it was a different set of scales. I'm 181cm tall by the way - 5' 11.5".

Blood pressure was OK (117 over something), resting heart rate was surprisingly low at 60, but still OK (72 is normal). Lower is better, but being only 60 was a surprise to Chris.

Come to think of it, Chris was surprisingly indiscreet and not very good at all at hiding his surprise at some of my (better than expected) results. I'm not entirely sure that's a good quality in someone who is dealing with people looking to improve themselves on a daily basis.

Turns out my body fat is 25% or so, which is about 5% outside of the ideal band for healthy people. That was absolutely no surprise to me (or Chris).

In this time he'd looked over my programme. I spoke about my previous efforts. He looked at me, dumbfounded.

"You ran at 12kmh for 15 minutes on a 4% incline"

"Yeah - 4% or 4 degrees. I can't remember"


"Um, yeah."

We moved on. I found that I had to moving.

I explained what I focused on last time, and what I enjoyed. As mentioned I'd already done a session at the gym on Thursday - just a quick one - and it was clear they didn't have all the equipment I needed to continue that old programme. I'll publish my old routine when I get a chance (I don't have it hear, I think I have it at work).

My focus in the previous programme was on shoulder strength (for bowling and, I'll admit it, appearance) and core strength (for balance and a healthy back). I wasn't too worried about building up muscle mass, and I certainly wasn't worried about building strength in my legs.

We'd looked at what I wanted to achieve, and we'd looked at my body shape. The final test was one of fitness. Nine minutes on an exercise bike, keeping the RPM to 60. He asked me how fit I thought I was. I had no idea (or, really, any idea of what units I would use in giving an answer - really, what should I say - "two-thirds of an aerobics instructor"? "one-and-a-half golfers"?).

He hooked me up to a heart monitor and I hopped on. It was really very easy at first, a little too easy. He'd started me too low. After three minuted he increased the resistance on the bike and it was a little harder but not much. Three minutes later, for the last leg, it got a little harder. I was sweating moderately. Towards the end of the final leg he said he set the bar too low for me.

Once again, he looked surprised.

"This is actually on quite a high level, and you're not even meeting the target workout heart rate. I haven't made it hard enough for you."

He'd been taking readings all the way through the session, and as I removed the monitor and sat down he did some calculations. He looked at them and did them again. Then he looked at the tables.

"OK, so we've looked at your power output in this session and converted it to power output per kilogram. But your figure is artificially low as you never reached the target heart rate of 145bpm - you only got to 138."

The figure was 2.14 (watts or kilowatts per kg - I'm not sure which). Looking at the chart and trying to make his jaw-dropping look less obvious. For a male my age there were a series of figures - percentile figures. The median was about 1.6 I think. There was another figure for 75th percentile, about 1.9. I remember the highest figure though - for the 95th percentile. It was 2.34. I was in about the 85th percentile for fitness, given my age.

OK, now you're all surprised too, just like my South African friend. He was stumbling over his words trying to figure it out.

Suddenly some stroke of inspiration came over him. I thought he'd finally realised he forgot to carry the one or something, and that would make my figures better correspond to ... my figure.

But I was wrong. His stroke of genius, as we exited the appraisal room and moved to the counter was that he now gets to design a workout for me. I'd already mentioned I'd need a new one about half an hour ago.

All-too-casually he mentioned it again.

"So, you still need a programme then?"

"Yeah I think so."

"We don't always do programmes for members you know."

"Oh really? That's OK then - I'm happy to use my old one. I'll just do the ones I can."

"No! Um... no, it's OK, I'll sort one out for you. I can't do it now, but when will you next be in?"

"Wednesday or Thursday I think. So Wednesday's fine."
(I wanted to get it done as soon as possible - I'm at Rotto before that)

"Can we make it Thursday? Thursday afternoon? I'll be in on Thursday afternoon."

"Yeah, OK, if you like. Do you need to do it because you did my appraisal?"

"No I don't normally have to do it but I should this time. The others might not ... get it."

"Um... OK." I was getting a touch uncomfortable. My form was still out so I picked it up to file away: "So this form I filled out - that goes in this filing cabinet?"

"No leave it out - I'll keep it separate. I won't let the others see this, they probably won't ... get it."

"Um... OK." Genuinely getting uncomfortable now.

"And I'll keep your old programme - is that OK? I'll keep it with your forms here. Separate."

"No problem. I can print out another one."

"OK, great."

"Yeah, see you Thursday I guess. I'm gonna do a bit of a session in the gym now if that's OK."

And I did. Bigger than last Thursday's one, and enough to be sweating profusely. After a 5 minute run to cool down I swam 500m too, to cool down further and wash a bit of sweat off me. It was a nice day for it.

Anyways, now I'm filed away separately from everyone else (under C for Circus Freaks I imagine), we shall have to wait and see what my programme will look like on Thursday.

I was curious tonight after I was weighed. I went to the original set of scales and weighed myself.

I've lost two kilos, but that still doesn't count as weight loss! My weight always fluctuates during the week (usually goes up on the weekend when I booze and eat through my hangover). I weigh myself every Thursday (there's a reminder in my phone). So the true test will come when I return from Rotto.

Until then...

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Choosing a Gym

So I'm still enthusiastic about this New Years Resolution, a full week after committing to it. Don't laugh, that's far longer than normal for me.

Of course, to achieve my goal of getting down below 80kgs I need to join a gym, just as I did in the UK.

I had joined Fitness First, which is located right near work in the city, when I was back last year, however I didn't really find it acceptable. I was down to two choices really, based on two different philosophies.

The first was a gym close to work which was well equipped but expensive, good at ensuring you were trying to reach your goals but difficult to get to on the weekends, and I only know one person who goes there, but I wouldn't be going at the same time as her.

Alternatively there is a smaller gym, run by a local council, which is cheaper and allows access to the pool. There are less machines but it is easier to get to on the weekends and after work. There is less contact with staff after the first appraisal but at least three of my mates are members there.

In the end, I went for the option of peer pressure as the best source of motivation, and headed to the smaller gym. I didn't need peer pressure as a motivation in London (although the gym I chose was recommended by housemates), but then I didn't have this crazy New Years Resolution to live up to.

So there you have it. I'm a member of Beatty Park gym (and get access to the pool and facilities there for no extra cost).

I weighed myself again tonight and no change. I'm still 96kg.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

The Challenge for 2009


It's a wonderful word and one I aspired to in my time in the UK. To be honest I doubt I have the frame (or the implied grace and dignity) to pull off svelte, no matter how thin I get. But it always seemed like a nice aspirational goal.

Alas, since returning to Australia and being rather well-fed since, that goal has got a bit further away. I notice little things, comparing myself to photos from Europe. My shoulders have slumped, so I'm actually shorter now. My bowling action has changed.

Of course, I was fiercely proud of the way I looked at the end of my time in the UK, as light as I'd been since high school. And the better you feel when you're at your best, the more resentment and disappointment you have with yourself when you let yourself go. So while I know I'm not morbidly obese, I'm pretty determined to get back to my former glory.

It's funny: you notice friends saying different things to you when you're a different shape. They're all well meaning, but you notice the difference. For example, some, when I lost the weight, would say how "fantastic" I looked. Some couldn't hide their shock and blurted out
"you've lost so much weight!" Then, as the weight slowly comes back on, the comments change to "you're looking well" and then more recently "you're looking healthy."

For my mates at the cricket club it was a bit simpler: it went from "you're a prick" to "you're a fat prick".

If you read a bit of my rather long NZ email and blog entry, you'll know that Eammon had a pretty grand New Years Resolution. I didn't have one ready for January 1 I'm ready to set one now for 2009.

I weighed myself the other day and was shocked to find myself at 96kg. Some of that (about 4kg) is post-Christmas "baggage." But I'm determined to get as low as I was before, if not lower. So my new years resolution is this:

By the end of the year I will have a weight that begins with a seven. That is, I'll weigh less than 80kg.

Why on earth would I make such a claim in my blog? Well three reasons. First, I've done it before so it's not uncharted territory. Secondly, if I write about it and make it a bit more public, I'm more accountable, and I feel more peer pressure to push myself a little harder. Even if
hardly anyone reads this, all my friends know about it so if they happen upon it they'll keep me on the ball.

The third reason? Well if anyone else wants to do the same they are welcome to do so!

I should stay from the start that, in terms of knowledge, I am a complete novice - I don't know anything really about nutrition or exercise except the obvious stuff and little tidbids I picked up along the way. My only guiding principle is pretty logical: if I want to lose weight and keep it off, and maintain fitness, I can't do a cash diet or manic exercise - it has to be part of a lifestyle I can sustain. That's why its unrealistic, for example, for me to say I'll give up alcohol when its such a big part of my social life.

So there it is. Under 80kg (on the same set of scales I weighed myself on a couple of days ago) by the end of the year. I'll try to update this every week, and I'll talk next week about choosing a gym and more about what I did previously too. But for now you can consider this a bit of a mission statement. I've done it in the UK, and I want to do it in Australia.

Svelte may not be possible but I'll see what I can achieve in 2009.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Boxing Day and New Zealand

Ah, the post-holidays come-down. I haven't experienced it for a while. Normally it's hideously depressing, but it isn't this time. Why? Mainly because, as I mentioned in my previous email, I haven't left the Perth Metro Area since I arrived back from the UK in late July. Its good to lament the end of some travels again.

But finally I escaped my "glass case of emotion" and jetted off to Melbourne and then the South Island of New Zealand over the Christmas-New Year period.

Before I get started, there are a few thankyous I need to dish out.
- First of all a massive thanks to Tim Maher, who organised our Boxing Day test tickets in MCC Members. It was awesome being there. Thanks mate!
- Also to Melburnians Tim Leggoe and Kylie Harrison who were convinced to come along and drink with us. It was great catching up!
- In NZ I have to give a massive thanks to Eammon's family - Megan and Mick, Tracey and Graham, and Bridget for all their hospitality (and for the Brain Erasers), and also to Eammon's girlfriend Molly who was visiting from Chicago sacrificed a lot of her time with Eammon share him with us travellers
- Finally, a big thanks to Eammon himself for putting us up, organising a heap of our travels around NZ and doing almost all of the driving. Thanks mate!

Bish's Précis

- We were in MCC members at the Boxing Day Test
- Night time highlights included bogan-watching at Crown Casino, king browns at St Jerome's Laneway, and a Kebabgedy
- I had a sleep-deprived, drunken flight to NZ
- New Years Eve was in Frankton, near Queenstown and was large
- The scenery was amazing
- Eammon and I had a dip in some glacial lakes, Lake Pukake and Lake Hawea
- Also at Lake Hawea we saw Shihad in concert
- At the concert we saw the inspiration for this Facebook group
- Eammon's got a lot of work to do to achieve his New Years Resolution



This Christmas Day finished early and uncharacteristically sober for me. Shortly before midnight, my sister and her shiny new hubby Dave, Dave's mate Mark and his lively girlfriend Lisa, Kate Fitz and I jumped aboard a Qantas flight to Melbourne. Because of the time it took to serve us food, and 200kmh tailwinds, I only got about 90 mins sleep on the way over. We got to our hotel and crashed, again for 90 minutes, before getting up to meet Tim at Federation Square at 9am.

Aside from the first day's cricket, which was enthralling and included a Ponting century, there were a number of highlights at the cricket. Particularly:
- the opportunity to witness Nature's delicate, never-ending ballet between the security guards and the cup-snake builders in the Outer
- the MCC have their own monogrammed soap dispensers in their bathrooms. I was too self-conscious to take a photo of it, but Kate had no such qualms
- incredibly reasonable drinks prices (a pint of Carlton Draft $7.60 - better than most Perth pubs), the only drawback being the inability to take the drink to your seat: you have to drink in the bars

Erica arrived during the day and met up with us after stumps. That night featured extensive bar hopping in the city centre, including Cookie, St Jerome's laneway (which serves king browns!) and then the search for a kebab. After departing from the group at La La Land, I walked around for quite a while looking for a kebab joint. Frustrated, I asked some guys where the nearest kebab joint was. They said the famous Stalactites on Lonsdale St (past Swanton St). I was around the corner of King and Bourke at the time. So I walked up there only to find it was closed for renovations. I was gutted. So I walked back to Swanston St and down to Flinders St for some HJs and (where I somehow got into an argument over an obstructed emergency exit, and even took a photo of it) and eventually back to the hotel (cnr Flinders Lane and Spencer St), still frustratingly robbed of a Melbourne kebab.

It was a kebabgedy.

Day 2 of the cricket was an excellent one for Australia. I spent a good part of the day in the outer with Kate, Dave and Mark, and Kristy and Lisa once they'd done their shopping.

On the way out of the cricket I managed to see Darryl Hair. He's given up his role as a cricket umpire, but clearly still harbours hopes of being a sightscreen.

That night we started by having some post-cricket drinks at Riverside (underneath Fed Square), and after showering and dressing up we headed to Southbank. We met up with Helen Fitz and her fella Pete and ate at the excellent Blue Train (where I had two - count 'em, two - salads), and from there we headed to Crown Casino.

As soon as we walked in it was clear we shouldn't have bothered about dressing up. Clearly, the reason the rest of Melbourne looks so good is because they've scooped up the dregs and put them all in a pretty container called Crown Casino. It was very difficult to tell exactly what the dress standards were but they included allowing shorts and thongs. Burswood used to have dress standards but now they, like Crown, don't care who's money they take and want to lure everyone.

Not overly keen to gamble, we headed upstairs to a bar with a view of the Yarra, had a few drinks and saw the sights, which included:
- The best tattoo ever: "SICK" in gothic script on a lady's shin ("FULLY" must have been on her thigh)
- Some "cougars" in the bar up for it with a clink of my glass and a wink - they didn't get lucky (with me)
- Something approximating a threesome on the dance floor

We left the casino in dribs and drabs. Kate and I were the last there and she saw me lose thirty bucks in five minutes on the roulette table. Then, while finishing our pints, we observed a bit of blackjack, and I tried to share my very limited knowledge with her. Obviously it wasn't enough as she was keen to get advice from someone actually playing, and in the process almost getting me beaten up by one of those scary skinny bikies: the type that's always called "Ferret".

Storms were expected day 3 but weather was fine. Too bad the cricket was rubbish. Again we spent a bit of time in members and a bit in the outer. I managed to snaffle some MCC merchandise and walk around the place a bit.

That night was our last night in Melbourne, and we headed out of the city centre. We caught up with a couple of other Melburnian mates, Kylie Harrison and Tim Leggoe.

We went to Belgian Beer Cafe Bluestone, a nice garden bar on St Kilda Rd. We kicked on to Chapel St for a while where the girls found a prop for their comedy - a superman jacket.

Booze does funny things to you. I somehow convinced myself that I could drink through until the pub closed at 3am and then tough it out to get our 9:15 flight, which meant waking at 6am.

Kate was having passport issues so Erica and I got the Skybus. I made an awful attempt to sleep on it. Then, while lining up to check-in I was still drunk and entertained Erica - and myself - by dancing a jig.

I followed this by spotting girls in the check in line:
"she wants me"
"she wants me"
"oh, she wants me"
"she's be so hot if only she could pack her bloody suitcase"

Turns out I wasn't as subtle or quiet as I thought (or as far from those girls)when making those comments. In retrospect I was pretty lucky to get on the plane.

Once we checked in I slept for an hour at the gate. Woke up needing a toasted ham and cheese sandwich, a clear indication that a hangover isn't far away. All of a sudden they were boarding. I couldn't get one before boarding the plane. Then got a choice of continental breakfast or ham and cheese croissant! Back of the net!


We arrived and met Eammon and Molly at the airport, and then ate in Christchurch at Coyote's and saw a bit of the Aussie collapse on day 4 of the test. We then back to Eammon's to talk rubbish for a few hours while fighting of sleep and then scoffing a delicious chicken bake courtesy of Molly. Eammon teased us with the announcement that he had a cracking New Years Resolution. Sleep won in the end though.

The following morning's breakfast cook up by Eammon dominated mainly because it included lamb. We then drove from Christchurch to Queenstown, for my first taste of the NZ scenery. We saw the unusually iridescent Lake Tekapo and then went one better in Lake Pukake and had a dip. Glacial meltwater isn't nearly as warm as it sounds. We also stopped at the quaint Arrowtown for some beers in the sun.

The landscape for that drive was pretty spectacular. At various stages in the drive the scenery reminded me of Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland. Why go to the northern hemisphere eh?


So. Queenstown. New Years. How the heck are we gonna get accommodation? Luckily Eammon's sister Tracey and her husband Graham own a caravan park there! Once we got in, said hello and set ourselves up we headed over the road to the pub for a feed. We then headed into town and had a few drinks at the Red Rock, catching up with anither of Eammon's sisters, Megan and her husband Mick.

The previous night Eammon revealed to me that he hadn't had a ladyboy in 2008. So we moved on to a bar filled with painfully young revellers and all had one. After a couple more drinks before retiring for the night.

Some time during that night we also found that Kate had sorted out her passport issues and will be joining us. Excellent news!

The following day was New Years Eve. Before getting stuck into the beers we had a cricket game to watch! New Zealand and the West Indies. The weather started grubby, which was a shame as I had the perfect t-shirt for the day.

I had the task of explaining the game to Molly too. She wasn't too bad actually; she didn't ask any questions like "how many points do you get for a home run."

Nonetheless, the rain presented another threat - that I would have to explain the Duckworth-Lewis system to her. Thankfully, when it rained it stayed raining and the game was abandoned. So we headed off to the pub a bit early!

Having abandoned the illusion of sport there was no pretext to hide behind; it was just straight boozing from here. Not feeling overly mobile, we went to the local pub (which happened to be the one over the road from the caravan park) and we were soon met by a good chunk of Eammon's family. It was a pretty large night and included Eammon and I trying to take photos for a high-art calendar concept: digital camera photos taken through holes such as straws and rivets in benches. Check out June and July (my current profile photo).

The highlight of the night though was Eammon finally announcing his New Years resolution. He's attempting to run a four minute mile.


Kate arrived early morning. Once awake, we gathered in town for the famous FergBurger of Queenstown (it didn't disappoint) and then headed out for a tour of central Otago wine country. We headed to three wineries, with four of us drinking and Eammon driving us around, He was a lonely, bemused non-drinker for the first two wineries before his brother in law and a mate turned up at the last, so they could grumble about wineries together at the back of the tasting bar. Actually, at that particular winery they would have had good company with the grumpy barman.

That evening we took the boat into town from the Caravan Park, and painted the town red. The end of the night involved Kate trying to do the "worm" on a chesterfield couch in a bar, and four of us (Megan, Kate, Eammon and I) trying to drink about three litres of a milky concoction called "Brain Eraser". I still don't know what was in it. But I know by the end of it I'd advised Eammon he had to do a "baseline" mile run early in the year to see where he's starting from. And then I'd agreed to join him on that run.

Shihad and the West Coast

On the 2nd we drove to a small town called Lake Hawea to pitch a tent and watch Shihad in a pub there. It was a huge night for everyone - well almost everyone. One chap in front of us was passed out by about 6:35pm and didn't move until about 10pm. We spent most of the time in between mocking him.

And we're not done yet: join the "Passed Out Guy at Lake Hawea" group on Facebook.

The night ended with Molly being mocked for not having greasy enough hair, and then trying to write her name with her forehead on a window at the pub. Don't worry, I don't even think it made sense at the time.

On the 3rd I took the wheel and we drove up the west coast to a small town called Whataroa. Without a shower, the first stop was Lake Hawea itself. As I say, glacial meltwater is not as warm as it sounds. The girls found that out this time too.

On the way to Whataroa we saw some incredible west coast scenery, not least Franz Josef Glacier. Getting to the glacier involves wading through a very icy river and knee depth, which means access to the glacier relies on a dress code of Capri pants and shorts. No long pants please!
Alas, also on that trip I lost my dear possession, my digital watch. Stopping at the bottom of a hill, I got some stuff out of the back. I thought I got my watch but couldn't see it. But said "it'll turn up somewhere". We started to drive off and I heard a crunch. I dismissively said "oh, that's probably my watch". Kate opened the back door and said "yep, you're right". Rest in peace my well-travelled bundle of 1s and 0s.

Whataroa had one pub which did surf and turf on a stonegrill, which was good enough for me.

Return to Christchurch and The Mile

After a hike at Okarito, the last day of driving took us through Ross, Hokatika (for jade shopping) and Arthur's Pass (for inquisitive kea) and back to Christchurch, where we had our fateful mile run. After measuring the course exactly, and warming up, we set off racing - and I must emphasise this - not each other but the clock. The times we registered were 5:58 and 6:10. Eammon has some work to do before the end of the year.

On our last full day in NZ we had a day of walking around Christchurch (I managed to get sunburnt in 22 degree "heat"), saw the Botanical Gardens, and then driving around Lyttleton which reminded me more than a little of Albany, and the hills above. We headed home the following day.

So that was it! I noticed a couple of things about NZ while I was there. First of all in the inevitable losing of my voice from boozing, I noticed I picked up a sympathetic kiwi accent. I dunno what it was. Maybe I was too weak in my perpetually drunk and hungover state to fight of the pity for our little fellow antipodeans (is that patronising enough for you?).

Secondly, and possibly linked to that, I noticed that the Kiwi radio reports of Australia's cricketing demise. They were loaded with shaudenfreude, and a maybe a hint of an inferiority complex. I don't know whether it's a symptom for what Warnie called the "frustrated Australians", but they were pretty happy with our demise in the Melbourne test. I notice this sort of thing in a few isolated places in Australia to one degree or another - in Tassie and even in Perth.

Nonetheless, there will surely be more of this attitude towards the Aussie cricket team if its predicted slide continues.

For anyone who made it this far, happy new year! The next trip will be overseas. To Rottnest! For the first time in 12 years I'll be back on the island for Australia Day. Should be ace.

For now though it's back to more regular (and, thankfully, shorter) blog entries. In fact I'm likely to start a series of blog entries that might even be coherent in the near future. Stay tuned!

Cheers, Rosco