Just before Christmas last year, I found out that I was going to have a month’s leave prior to this Easter. With Christmas over, I began to consider what to do with myself during this time off. My children would still be studying and my wife was unlikely to leave them alone for the whole time; perhaps this would be a chance for me to do ‘something significant’ – something that only I would want to do – but what? On a trip to Perth, Australia, between Christmas and New Year, the answer came to me. I’d hired a bicycle for the day and cycled from the city:
to the beach at Fremantle and back again.
It was ‘only’ 40 miles, or so, it took me most of the day and I ached afterwards. However, I’d enjoyed myself so much that I determined on the ride that my ‘something significant’ for my month’s leave would be to cycle from one end of Great Britain to the other – commonly known as ‘Lands End to John O’Groats’, ‘LEJOG’, or ‘The End to End’ . My ‘End to End’ would only require me to cycle approximately double my Perth day’s cycling distance and maintain that for 16 days continuously. OK, it would be during the months of ‘Windy March’ and ‘Showery April’ in UK (not the glorious sunshine of this Western Australian day) but, with 3 months to train and prepare for it, how difficult could that possibly be?……………………..…what a great idea……………………………………………!!!!
As described in the last blog, all are available during an evening’s horse racing at Hong Kong’s Happy Valley
If you are ever stuck for something to do on a winter’s wednesday evening in Hong Kong, I can highly recommend a visit to the Happy Valley race track. For a very nominal entrance fee to the track-side public enclosure, you get an evening of fabulous atmosphere, great horse racing and the excitement of perhaps winning on a small wager.
We were lucky enough to be invited to crew aboard an Amel Super Maramu 54′ ketch in the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club annual Round The Island Yacht Race on Sunday. With up to 30 kts of wind, 2 metre seas in places and some 260+ yachts competing, there was some very exciting sailing to be had – and not much time available for photography! The photo above was taken on the ‘calmer’ downwind leg as we overtook this fabulous 78′ ketch named ‘Rona’ that was built in 1895!
The photo below was taken from another boat at a very similar time, with our boat in the background behind Rona.
The final photo, again of our boat, was taken as we were beating up Hong Kong’s Victoria harbour at the start of the race
The last few days have seen me post photos of a teenaged adult woman playing rugby, building houses for disadvantaged people in Thailand and taking part in adventure sport. Some might regard these as unusual activities for a young female, so here I try to re-dress (pun intended) the balance. All women enjoy dressing up in pretty clothes right? This one is no exception, believe me! So, given the opportunity, what chance of saying no to modelling a whole range of pretty clothes at a fashion show?
Here’s the twist; the whole show was organised and performed by teenagers. From venue booking, ticketing, security and catwalk scheduling, to outfit donations, lighting, compering and music. Even some of the clothing was produced by one of the participants’ fledging clothing business:
The result was a very successful and enjoyable evening, which also happened to raise over US$6000 for a local school for hearing and sight impaired children.
Youth of today – can’t organise anything, got no drive, no ambition, got no compassion for others – yeh, right!
Continuing my series of disparaging blogs about the youth of today, here we have another photo illustrating the interminable, wasted hours spent by this section of society in front of computer screens, playing worthless, war-and-sexually-centric games. I mean, look at this girl; she’s dressed up in a rubber suit, wearing tight belts, straps and all manner of other weird appendages and she’s even inside a World War II US Army Transport Ship, sunk by a Japanese torpedo attack in 1942 – talk about taking it to extremes and getting totally immersed in the fantasy!
The USAT Liberty was carrying railway and rubber supplies from Australia to the Philippines when she was torpedoed by the Japanese submarine I-166 near the Lombok Strait on 11th January 1942. Taken in tow by the US destroyer Paul Jones and the Dutch destroyer Van Ghent, she was making her way to the Balinese port of Singaraja when her damage overwhelmed her and she was beached near Tulamben in order to salvage her stores. She remained on the beach there until 1963 when the nearby volcano, Mt Agung, erupted. The tremors associated with the eruption caused this 13000 ton, 125 metre-long wreck to slip off the pebbled, sloping shore and back into the water, finally coming to rest on a sand bottom some 150 meters away.
I’d read a lot about the fantastic diving at this site so forced the rest of the family up at 0445 to make the 1 hour drive there and get in the water before the projected ‘hordes’ arrived. Although we were in the water before 0700, we still shared the site with almost a dozen other divers and all the resident large shoals of fish had already left for the day. The ship lies in about 6-30m of water and we managed to explore most of it in our 40+ minute dive, despite a stiff current picking up about halfway around the wreck. The dive was good, don’t get me wrong, but having read such glowing reports on the site, I have to say I exited the water a little underwhelmed on this occasion – but therein lies the beauty of scuba diving; the ocean is not a zoo and you never know what you are going to see from one dive to the next.
I was also initially a little underwhelmed on this dive by the performance of my newly acquired (but second-hand) GoPro Hero 2 camera. Of the 50+ photos that I took on the dive, this is by far and away the best one, but at the same time it is only just about acceptable for me to post as a photo. Again, perhaps I’m being a little harsh; I bought this small, easily handled unit for about £100 and it has provided me with an image to remember the day by – and it recorded that image under the most extreme conditions – we’re about 25m underwater here; there’s a huge amount of external pressure and very little light. Even the light that there is has had its colour composition markedly altered by water attenuation. In the water at the same time as us was a guy carrying an incredibly unwieldy camera and strobe-light combination, costing many thousands of pounds. He struggled to get in and out of the water through the breaking surf on the beach and was comparatively unmaneuverable underwater. He certainly didn’t follow us through some of the smaller ‘passages’ in the wreck that we swam through. Although I never got to see how good his photos were, I wonder whether they provided him a better memory of his day!
Having been a little remiss in my blogging recently, I thought I’d start catching up with a mini series on ‘the youth of today’. With a daughter passing into adulthood over the last couple of weeks, this series of photos will try to showcase, in a far more positive light than is what popularly portrayed in the press, just what some of the youngsters of today are getting up to.
The first photo is a composite image of a try being scored in a ladies under-20 rugby match. Click on the image to view it in a larger size and pick out the detail. On display here is athleticism, determination, bravery, teamwork and skill. There’s not a single computer screen, alco-pop, or drug to be seen! All these young women played this game in a fantastic spirit, with a very good standard of technique and, when they left the field at the end of the game, smiles and laughter were mixed, quite literally, with blood, sweat and tears. Hats off to them all !!