Saturday, May 28, 2011

Fitness blues

I have been toying with running for quite a few months. Some of you may remember that I used to have a very negative attitude towards people who ran and have had to humbly swallow my words as I have begun to engage in said activity.

From the treadmill, I have now progressed to the real world, helped along by a few too many trips to Perth in the last 2 months and a need to keep fit whilst spending far too many hours in a car. So from my first 20 min run in the real world, I've progressed to 40 min runs most mornings this week.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Couch potato

I blame it on the Kindle. A few months ago I decided to buy one, then proceeded to trawl through the websites that allow you to download ebooks for free. Alot of these books are quite old, and amongst them I've found some great travel literature. I'm thrilled to have found Alfred Russel Wallace's book, which means on my next Indonesian trip I'll be able to take it with me. It and the other few hundred books I've so far loaded.

I've also found some great travel literature from China, much of which I've had to borrow through the local library. Having discovered Peter Fleming (he's Ian Fleming's younger brother) I've had a wonderful time reliving his rather superficial forays through Russia and China during the early to mid 1930s. He has a wonderful way of writing about the people he meets, especially the other westerners, mostly missionaries, and what he has to say about travel wouldn't seem out of place on an internet travel forum. Having travelled overland through the Stans and Mongolia to Peking, he then joined force with a Swiss lass called Ella Maillart (nickname Kini) and they attempted an amazing cross country trip in 1935 skirting north of the Tibetan plateau trying to reach Kashgar then on to Srinagar in India, all the time avoiding/ misleading the official authorities as foreigners had been denied access since civil uprisings in Xinjiang had occurred in 1933. Seems nothing much has changed!

The best thing is, both Peter and Ella wrote a book each about their trip. Both were travelling as "special correspondents" for European newspapers, both essentially had sweet talked editors into paying them in order to fulfil their individual desires to travel. Both were fiercely independent solo travellers, but they had no trouble getting along well with each other. And so I sit there with both books in hand, reading alternate chapters from each of them, and feel like I'm having a lovely chat with two intrepid travellers, recounting a fascinating trip.

It sure makes the travel we do these days seem like a walk in the park. Very few roads, railroads were still being constructed, and the Communists were fighting the nationalist government of Nanking. And we think negotiating the local buses is being adventurous! Ha!

Must get back to my mates Kini and Peter.....

(For those interested the books are: News from Tartary by Peter Fleming, and Forbidden Journey by Ella K Maillart)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Waves in May

Well it's actually pretty normal to get more swell in the autumn and winter, but it isn't usual to get a seabreeze. Good old climate change, wreaking havoc with the normal weather patterns...

So there I am, pretty well recovered from my injury, have put the gear in the garage till next season and have commenced the major garden chores. My mind's off windsurfing now, and into major garden renovations. In fact over Easter I resurrected the tank stand and this weekend I fill the tank and see what happens. Hopefully not another catastrophe!

I get home at lunchtime and look out on big rolling swell, whitecaps and rattling windows. That means only one thing: time to go windsurfing. Ring Kate, load the car and head out to Coros for an awesome session with the girls. Only 6 windsurfers and 4 kiters out, all mates, no ringins from elsewhere and any wave you want all to yourself. Awesome!! Got seriously worked on a huge mast high wave that broke over me just as I headed up into the top section after a sweet deep bottom turn. Rollercoaster of whitewater and breathholding and a very long swim to retrieve the gear. But still back for more.

Days like today are to be savoured, especially when you aren't expecting them.

Happy days...