Thursday, 3 July 2014

A short beer review

Feeling like a small treat I took myself into Plonk this afternoon and acquired a few Pommie beers.  Purely from an educational point of view here are some thoughts on the outcome.  (This will be updated as the other samples get tested to destruction.)

  • Marstons Oyster Stout:  at 4.5% ABV this is not a particularly robust stout but it definitely rates as pleasant plus.  A little bitter but good complexity in aftertaste. Not as choclatety as some some samples, but I can certainly see it going down nicely with a dozen of Coffin Bay's finest.  (In passing Iwill note the strange message about cookies on the linked site.  That seems to pop up on many UK websites recently: presumably it is a Laura Norder requirement.)
  • SEcond cab off the rank is Box Steam Brewery,from Holt in Wiltshire UK offering up Derail Ale.  An IPA with considrable merit, albeit relatively little ABV (5.2%).  Very hoppy - I can still summon the aftertaste some 90 minutes after finishing the bottle.  It drank very well despite travelling several kilometres today!
  • The final item here is back to Marstons for their Strong Pale Ale. At 6.2% ABV it certainly gets the strong bit undercontrol and it did have the characters of a good Pale Ale.  Unfortunately the test was hardly fair as the bottle had got a trifle shaken in transit.  Possibly also stirred as it erupted when opened.  Worth another try under better circumstances.


Wednesday, 2 July 2014

ANPS emulates the Duke of York

This is nothing to do with Mr Fergie (nor even Ms Fergie) but more about the Grand Old man of the Nursery rhyme.

We went up Mt Taylor and then came down Mt Taylor.  However, unlike the Duke's troops when we were half way up we had morning tea (and when we were halfway down put the fang on lunch).

We went up to check out the magnificent views from the apex, of which more later.  At the start it was a tad foggy so I will say now, rather than repetitively through the post, that many of the images show condensed moisture on the flowers. I'll also say that quite a few of these species seemed to be flowering somewhat early.

Hardenbergia violacea
 Indigofera adesmiifolia: the 'other indigofera':  Pretty and pink and I didn't recognise it: three hits towards being a weed, but no, it is a native.
 Pretty and yellow and I did recognise it.  Native to an area about 120km away as the Superb Parrot carries seed so surely a native.  No sir: its the dreaded Acacia baileyana which is rated as a weed ...
 ... at least by the People for Botanical Purity who know how to deal with it!
 As we began to ascend a good growth of Allocasuarina verticillata was noticed.  According to Julie, this area was basically bare grazed in the past, but following the fires is developing a very good covering of vegetation.
Here is a flowering (? these are male parts but I think flowers can be blokes not just females) she-oke - it has been suggested better called 'he okes' -   in the distance ...
 .. and close up.
A few of the trees low down were mature enough to have dropped a few cones, while further up some of the trees had a very good lunch bar for Glossy Black-Cockatoos.  Thus far the big birds seem to have been able to resist.  There was no sign of chewings under the trees.
 A hairy fern, Cheilanthes distans.
 Here is C. distans with the commoner C. austrotenuifolia in the background.
 A good crop of Cryptandra propinqua is about to burst its buds.
 The magpies in this area seemed particularly habituated so came close for photographing.
 The Crimson Rosella also posed nicely, but was more than 5m off the ground so a little occluded by the fog.
 So here are the promised views (theory below, reality above).  First to the East ...
 .. then the West.  What mountains? What snow?
 It was pleasing to see the dog bowl and water at the summit.
 Eucalyptus dives just below the summit and in flower.
 Moss and ferns in a small run-off stream on the way back down.
 Moss and fungi, ...
 .. and a gall.
 Why on earth is Bursaria spinosa flowering now?
 Some local had a better idea about what to do on a foggy day!
Despite the fog ruining the views it was a very pleasant walk.  Certainly a lot better than Orroral, where I suspect snow might have been on the menu (and the ground).

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

June Weather report

In brief (I was going to say "Summary" but that might be misleading) Winter has finally arrived, bringing with it some welcome rain in our area and some even more welcome snow to the ranges and ski fields.

(As a blast from memoryland one of the items I saw from the Department of Immigration before I emigrated in 1970 talked about the Australian ski-fields being larger than Switzerland.  This will almost certainly be true most years in about August but the didn't mention that the permanent snowfields amount to about 20m2 on the shady side of Kosziosko!)

I don't have any snow scenes for you, but these two cloud images from the 30th, looking from Weston towards the Brindabellas are quite attractive.

OK: attractive in a rather Mordor sort of way!

Rain

My weather station recorded precipitation on 16 of the 30 days of June.  Of those days, 6 were readings of 0.2mm, which can be attributed to a heavy fog.  The heaviest fall - 32mm - occurred on the 14th and caused the Creek to go over the drive for the first time since it has been enhanced.

We do seem to be climbing out of the depths of the mini-drought of 2013.
While it is still early days we would need some seriously arid months to get back to the position of January 2014.

Temperature

My records don't go back far enough to look at a comparison with previous Junes but we did at least see a couple of solid frosts.
I am impressed by the length of some of the bars, indicating the difference between the temperature at 00:30 and 23:30.  The yellow bars indicate the evening temperature higher than the early morning (most likely where cloud has come across to 'hold in' the warmth of a day.  The blue bars show the converse, reflecting passage of a cold front.

12 days had a range >10oC (maximum range 14.9oC on the 7th. while 3 days had a range less than 5 oC (the most yucky being the range of 2.4oC - from 2.8 to 5,2 - on the 29th.

Humidity

A benefit of compiling these reports I that I get my attention focused on topics which I mightn't otherwise register.  I was aware of the rain and (more or less) the temperature profile.  However I was very surprised to notice that the 1700 Hrs relative humidity was less than 70% on only two days and over 90% on 6 days.   the next chart compares the average relative humidity for each 30 minute reading in June 2014 and for my entire data set for all of 2014.
One could say a muggy month, but the low temperatures make it seem less oppressive.

Wind

I still cannot find a definitive way of presenting information about the wind.  
This chart shows the maximum wind gust during the day and the average gust speed for each 30 minute period during the day.  The pattern is very similar: a few windy days early in the month (frontal passages) and a period of sustained nastiness for the last week.

June updates

As usual a set of revisions, edits and corrections that early readers might have missed.

I'll begin with an image scanned from the UK Country Life magazine.  For a number of weeks they reproduced samples from a book adding comments to famous London Statues.  This is my favourite.

This Blog

Sunday, 29 June 2014

An unpleasant day for a run

I posted a couple of days ago about the poor quality weather we have been having.  After a reasonable day on Friday yesterday returned to ordinary with 11.8mm of rain and strong winds.  Today has delivered less rain (2.6mm so far) still strong winds and the temperature has thus far (13:30) only staggered up to 4.9C.  (That was nearly the maximum: it got to 5.2 at 14:20!)

This made my decision to go to Mt Ainslie for the ACT Veterans Athletics Handicap somewhat difficult, but participating would maintain my stagger towards 100 handicaps completed and maintain my eligibility for awards.

When I arrived I was struck by the number of people wearing down parkas and vests.  Some of them maintained this attire for their run/walk.
The second striking thing was the low number of cars in the parking area.  My estimate was about 50% less than usual for this event.
The starters were dressed for the occasion.  I have never before noticed their clocks being in waterproof covers, but can see it would be sensible on days like this.
To put it mildly the track was not in great condition, although it did remind of school cross country in the UK.  At least there wasn't a ploughed field (nor a paddock full of incontinent bovines) to negotiate!
The pre-event notes mentioned the word "undulation".  Here is the first one.  Possibly due to the amount of clothing I was wearing (full thermals, shorts, tee-shirt and spray jacket) plus the high traction mud I was finding it difficult to get going and didn't mind pausing to take some photos.
Another undulation along the back of Campbell Park offices.  The field was a little spread out and sparser than usual.  Note also the individualist (in black on far RHS of the track) running towards me.  They didn't even have the excuse of running in a series, so could only rely on a defence of weakness of intellect for not being somewhere warmer and drier.
This is not Sir John Franklin, nor Captain Oates, but a former President of the Vets showing his style as he marshalled people up towards the Ainslie-Majura saddle.  Well done for schlepping a full length Driza-Bone that far!
 I used the word 'up' in the previous paragraph.  This image does not do justice to the slope of the 8th kilometre.
 Finally the welcome sight of the finish.  The officials are still wearing their wet and cold weather gear!
I didn't take 85 minutes for the 9.3km: I suspect more like 57 which is still pretty blooming slow.  I will take a leaf from Prone, the physician on the expedition covered by the Ascent of Rumdoodle, and claim to have been suffering from photo-lassitude.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Updating the erdbeerberg

When I was studying agriculture at Uni (in the UK) one of the big issues was the way the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the European Union led to massive surpluses of some products.  The most problematic was huge stocks of butter attributed to subsidies permitting a French peasant with 2 cows and a goat to make a living from those stock.  This stockpile was referred to in the British Press as the "Butterberg" with 'berg',  the German word for mountain, being used to display the erudition of such rags as the Daily Mirror and the Daily Express.

A couple of years back I decided to adopt the term for our strawberry patches which were - even without the guiding hands of Rupert Murdoch and Lord Beaverbook - producing massive crops.  However I went a step further and used the Deutsche for strawberry as a prefix.  Seeking to be a bit more erudite than Pommie tabloids is a pretty modest ambition!

Last year it seemed that one of the patches was getting invaded by underground stems from a patch of mint  on one side and raspberries on the other.  It was also old enough that the strawberries were getting a tad senile.  So I decided to create a fresh patch elsewhere in the vegie garden.  The mint and runaway raspberries will get dealt with later: the mild Winter means they haven't yet gone dormant.

The new patch is currently a bit damp, after recent rain.
I am hopeful that it will dry out in the next few days so that I can transplant some runners .  To get things prepared, as well as digging the new bed I went to get some pine needles as mulch .
I was accompanied on this trek by the small dog who found something interesting under the pines.
 Yes, it was indeed evidence of wombats living by the creek.
When you've got it, roll in it.  This is much joked about in Footrot Flats
but I have never had a dog before that so enjoys writhing in faecal matter.  At least wombat doesn't stink as does fox.
Back at the patch it was time to add a bit of compost to the patch.  While sieving it I found a few beetle larvae (more evidence of the warmth of the season) and flicked them to where the magpies can see them..
 Here is the finished patch, waiting for dryness.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Weather average, going on ordinary

In colloquial Australian the word "average" implies that something is far from the mean of expected (or at least hoped_for) values.  It means something that is inherently undesirable.  When 'your' football team is beaten by a team wearing black and white (surprisingly this phenomenon crosses code boundaries as well as State borders) it would be described as a "pretty average result".

In the same way 'ordinary' implies something out of the usual in a negative direction.  When some thug (I don't have to describe their guernsey, do I) king-hits your best player that would be a "fairly ordinary bit of play".

The use of the terms in this way is not restricted to sport.  Tuesday 24 June was an excellent specimen of the circumstances in which they might be applied to the weather.

The minimum temperature for the day was 1.5C early in the morning.  About 3pm I emailed a friend to say the temperature hadn't got about 4C.  (It had staggered up to about 6.5C by 9pm.)

It rained more or less all day, and I got fed up with using electricity to pump water up the hill, just to have it overflow the main tank and run back down again.  This led the catch-tank to overflow very soon after.
A small drain was then dug to lead the water towards a lawn, rather than simply filling up the pit in which the tank stands.   We totaled 14.4mm for the day.(following 8.8mm the previous day).

To add to the misery of the day cloud-base was around 900m as it was well down the face of the Taliesin Hills behind our house.

Getting the quadrella of unpleasantness into line it was also very windy.  Here is a Doppler radar image from 1439.
The most interesting element of this is the patch of red of the edge of the dark blue.  The software which generates these images cycles colours so if the windspeed is >100kmh (the top of the dark blue range it goes to the far end of the scale and uses dark red for speeds between 100 and 110.  (Memo to self: check the next cyclone to see if that captures a Doppler image with over 200kph.)